New York investment sales surged 31 percent in the second half of 2015 to $34.3 billion from $26.1 billion in the 2014 period. Multifamily elevator rental buildings led the way, accounting for 29 percent of total consideration, with the $5.5 billion Stuyvesant Town/Peter Cooper Village sale driving the increase. Retail’s share of total consideration was 7 percent, down from 15 percent in 2014’s second half.
Retail investment sales in the five boroughs declined 34 percent to $2.6 billion in the second half of 2015, from $3.8 billion in the second half of 2014. In Manhattan, sales fell 49 percent to $1.37 billion in the second half of 2015 from $2.7 billion in the prior year’s half, according to a new report by the Real Estate Board of New York.
“There are less deals happening as there is less product,” said Robin Abrams, vice chairman of the Lansco Corp. “For every opportunity, there has been a buyer. In the recent past, the market had gotten so active that prospective buyers were block-and-lot canvassing every owner to see if the retail component or entire property could be purchased. Where there was interest from potential sellers to explore options, a sale or long-term master lease took place.
“As the leasing market cools down a bit, the purchase price buyers are willing to pay must do the same,” Abrams added. “For this reason, buyers aren’t willing to be quite so aggressive and acquire retail product at almost any price. Lenders are likely being more conservative about qualifying projected rents, particularly for encumbered space.”
REBNY, in its last retail report, noted some softening in ground floor asking rents in prime retail corridors. Where there were increases, they were more modest, the organization noted.
The Bronx saw a 133 percent increase in retail consideration from the second half of 2014, when $79.7 million in real estate changed hands, to $186 million in the second half of 2015. The highest sales price recorded in the Bronx was $133 million for a retail property at 184 West 237th Street.
Brooklyn had an increase of 35 percent to $505 million in 2015’s second half from $373 million in the prior-year period. Retail property in Queens was off by 1 percent from $446 million in 2014’s second half to $441 million in the 2015 second half. After the $480 million sale of an office building in Long Island City, the largest sale in Queens was $290 million paid for two retail condominiums on College Point Boulevard.
Staten Island’s retail property sales declined 44 percent to $442,000 in the second half of 2015 from $796,000 in same 2014 period.
“Retail sales have been challenged since the recession, with off-price and discount retailers as well as the luxury sector performing well, but other segments of the market hurting,” Abrams said. “Reasons range from consumers looking for new, fresh product from new brands to the fact that rising costs, including escalating rents, make it harder for retailers to be profitable. The expectation for stores to be promotional has become the norm and they’re cutting prices with discounts and sales, thereby diminishing margins.
“The good news is that many retail brands from outside the U.S. have been studying the market carefully and cautiously,” Abrams said. “Now that rents are leveling off, and in many high-profile areas dropping based on increased availability, some of those retailers are making plans to open stores in key markets, including New York City. Ath-leisure retailers are expanding in a big way with tenants like Sweaty Betty and Yogasmoga having opened stores, and a host of their competitors scouting locations. Men’s wear is also big, with many contemporary brands opening stores. Accessories, jewelry and shoes are also strong as women augment their wardrobes with new items they can pair with existing apparel.”