COLORFUL Sam Zell, Vornado Realty Trust’s Steve Roth and Apollo’s Bill Mack recently unveiled their take on the wild state of real estate at the NYU REIT conference panel entitled, “The View from 10,000 feet III.” While all three described dangerous real estate minefields to avoid at all costs, each also sees big opportunities for those willing to tread into beaten-down areas.

According to a spy at the meeting, Mack observed that across the globe, “things” were built in bad locations. “The de-leveraging of the world will create opportunities for people with cash,” he said.

Similarly, Zell says he is investing in places like Brazil, China, Mexico and Egypt because the private sector has significant opportunities in these emerging markets.

“Buying leveraged loans offers the best opportunities,” he said.

Roth stressed that “distressed paper” now offers the best spread between bid and asks.

“It is difficult to buy first-class assets,” Roth said. “You can’t make a fair buy and there is very little trading.” Yet he added, “Great buildings in great locations are strong.”

Zell also advised, “Commercial real estate is dramatically better than what the media is saying.”

As for what not to do, Roth flatly warned would-be buyers to never sign personally “for nothing” and “don’t take a one-year bridge [loan] in a volatile market.”

That led Zell to jokingly interject, “Bridge to nowhere!”

In the same vein, Mack noted, “Don’t buy long-term assets with short-term money. It’s lunacy to finance short term.”


Frank Sciame of Sciame Construction finally called back after last week’s column appeared to note that another developer could decide to use the Santiago Calatrava design for 80 South Street.

But he and partners Cord Meyer are selling that site “as a site” through Newmark Knight Frank.

We suspect, but Sciame wouldn’t say, that the plans – if they exist as more than mere fanciful drawings – would be for sale separately either through them or through Calatrava.

Dept. of Buildings records show no permit requests were ever filed.

Of course, if those guys couldn’t sell the sky-high priced Sky Cube townhomes in that location, could someone else?

That’s why other developers are considering glamorous but less costly schemes, especially in these times of high construction costs.


In the special Chelsea High Line zoning district, air rights were just bought from one site and transferred two blocks away.

The owner of the 29-unit rent-regulated walk-up apartment building at 508-510 W. 29th St. was able to sell 5,478 feet of air rights for $1.7 million to a development two blocks away.

That’s because broker Roberto Ortiz, of Eastern Consolidated, had sold them the building in 1996 for $960,000 and recalled they had the extra footage.

Meanwhile, his Eastern colleague Ben Tapper was representing Erik Ekstein of Ekstein Development who is building a new apartment tower at 537-545 W. 27th St.

That building was to encompass 123,435 feet and now, for $310 per extra foot, will spread to 128,913 feet of rental and condo units.


News America Marketing, an arm of News Corp., and various other News Corp. groups are leaving the company’s headquarters at 1211 Avenue of the Americas.

The move will take them across 47th St. into three floors at 1185 Ave. of the Americas.

The 12-year lease for the entire 25th, 26th and 27th floors totals 83,822 feet and brings the 1.1 million foot building to 99 percent occupancy.

The NFL Hockey store holds down the retail, and with the advent of warmer and more humid weather, its centerpiece ice wall should be back up and running.

News America marketing is currently on the 5th floor at 1211.

David Levinson and David Berkey of L & L Holding Company repped News Corp., which owns The Post, while 1185’s ownership, SL Green Realty Corp. was represented in-house by Howard Tenenbaum and Gary Rosen.

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