27 May 2009

Real Estate Follow-Up

Here's an updated annotated chart of IYR:

Towards the end of today's melt-up, I bought some June $22 SRS calls for $1.65. Let's hope Wednesday's market makes some sense and reflects rationality. I'm not holding my breath--and I'm glad I have 18 trading days until June options expiration.

On the substantive side, the Times reported on the glut of Manhattan commercial real estate by focusing on one of the players in my industry:

At 1095 Avenue of the Americas, Dechert, a law firm with a lease for the 25th through 31st floors, is seeking to sublet two floors, each 37,000 square feet.

Brokers say that many sublandlords will probably need to bend over backward to sublease their space, given the sharp rise in vacancies.

In Midtown Manhattan, for example, 13 percent of prime, modern, well-located offices — which brokers often refer to as Class A space — was available in April, up from 6.5 percent a year earlier, according to Colliers ABR, a commercial real estate services company. And sublets now account for some 40 percent of the space available in Midtown, compared with 30 percent of the much smaller total that was available a year ago, the company said.

In some cases, the ink was barely dry on the original lease before the space went back on the market for sublet.

For example, Dechert, a global corporate law firm, has completed one year of a 15-year lease for the 25th through 31st floors at 1095 Avenue of the Americas, a 41-story office tower between 41st and 42nd Street, overlooking Bryant Park.

When the firm moved in last year, it intentionally took an extra floor, which it planned to use for future expansion, and from the start it has had a subtenant on the whole 31st floor. But that sublease expires in July, and the subtenant does not plan to renew. Since last year, the law firm has also had several rounds of layoffs, and it needs less space.

Judith B. Tellefsen, the director of real estate and purchasing for Dechert, said the firm would like to sublet two floors, preferably lower floors, which are each 37,000 square feet. “We are only partially occupying the 25th and 26th floors, and we could easily consolidate those lawyers on other floors,” she said. Ms. Tellefsen said that the firm would be flexible, though, if a subtenant wanted the 31st floor instead.

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