This winter marks the first anniversary of the expansion of the W&H portfolio, first established in 2003. It seems like an ideal time, therefore, to look back on challenges met and the successes of the past year, and also discuss what W&H is doing to pave the way in 2008.
2003: The Beginning
In 2003, we launched W&H with five Manhattan properties comprising The Lincoln Building at 60 East 42nd Street, 1359 Broadway, 501 Seventh Avenue, 250 West 57th Street and the International Toy Center (200 Fifth Avenue and 1107 Broadway, subsequently sold). These properties all shared impressive histories, long-term ownership, great locations and huge potential. What they had been missing were the capital commitment and management ability to execute to achieve this potential.
As soon as the portfolio was created, W&H quickly got to work. We replaced the existing management with three top managing agents: CB Richard Ellis, Cushman & Wakefield, and Newmark Knight Frank, and launched a quarter-billion-dollar capital improvement program that resulted in top-to-bottom renovations in each property, with the express purpose of transforming the buildings into a Pre-War Trophy brand.
Within a short period of time, these buildings were enjoying unprecedented attention from quality brokers and greatly increased leasing activity and occupancy levels, and attracting prominent, credit-worthy tenants. In the first year alone, the portfolio leased 700,000 square feet and paid nearly $5 million in broker commissions, according to its policy of paying 100 percent of commissions immediately upon lease signing.
Later, as renovations ended or neared completion, several of the properties won prestigious industry honors. 501 Seventh Avenue won the 2006 BOMA/New York Pinnacle Award for Renovated Building and the 2007 Award for Operating Office Building in the 100, 000-499, 999-square-foot category. 1359 won the organization's 2007 Award for Renovated Building and the 2007 Fashion Center's Property Improvement Award in the Lobby Renovation category. Also in 2007, The Lincoln Building received the BOMA/New York Pinnacle Historical Building Award.
2007: An Expanded Portfolio
These awards confirmed what the brokerage community had already learned about W&H Properties - that we deliver on our promises and "perform for you." And so, in 2007, when W&H expanded the portfolio by adding to it the Empire State Building, 112 West 34th Street, 1333 Broadway, 1350 Broadway and 1400 Broadway, Manhattan brokers had every expectation that these properties would follow similar paths of transformation as the original portfolio members.
These expectations were fully on target. The process of transforming the portfolio additions began immediately, in keeping with W&H tradition. CB Richard Ellis, Cushman & Wakefield and Newmark Knight Frank were assigned to the properties, and we allotted hundreds of millions of dollars to capital improvement programs at these new additions. It's no surprise, therefore, that top brokers are eagerly visiting the properties now and that prominent companies are joining their tenant rosters in droves.
New tenants signed just recently include Aetna Life Insurance Company (1333 Broadway), Lufthansa, Brennan Beer Gorman Architects, Taylor Global Communications, and law firm Napoli Bern (Empire State Building), Xerox Corporation subsidiary Carr Business Systems, ShermansTravel Media, LLC and the interactive marketing firm Coverclicks (112 West 34th Street), law firm Tarter Krinsky & Drogin (1350 Broadway), and Excelled Sheepskin & Leather Coat Corporation (1400 Broadway), to name a few.
2008 and Beyond
What's next? Our strategy is straightforward. We'll continue to deliver on our promises by spearheading broker- and tenant-friendly initiatives such as Refer, Lease & Win® and Show, Lease & Win®, proceed with our top-to-bottom capital improvement programs, consolidate spaces to accommodate larger, credit-worthy tenants, expand our very popular pre-built program, and, as always, pay 100% of commissions upon signing, maintaining our status as the most proactive and broker-friendly office portfolio in Manhattan. We have $21 million in commissions to pay and outstanding product to show, so there's a lot to look forward to.
Onward and upward!
Empire State ReBuilding | A Year in the Life: W&H's Expanded Pre-War Trophy Portfolio | Neighborhood News: Citing Resurgence, CB Richard Ellis Expands Midtown to Include ESB and Penn Plaza | Tenant Profile: BBG-BBGM | Leasing Update | Caddie's Corner | Refer, Lease & Win: First Cross-Building Award | HEARD IN THE HALLWAYS | Retail on the Radar | W&H Honors Commercial Brokers at Annual Event | Women in Commercial Real Estate: A Long Tradition at W&H | Community Activities Update | TENANTS' CORNER: Tell Us What You Think | Full Floors With Extras | COMMISSIONS AVAILABLE TO PAY | Show, Lease & Win! | Q&A With Mitch Arkin Executive Director, Cushman & Wakefield |
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