Jacob Garlick Places $190 Million Winning Bid for Flatiron Building

Flatiron Building

Flatiron Building

On Wednesday, prospective bidders assembled on the steps of the Manhattan County Courthouse to participate in the auctioning process of the historic Flatiron Building. As the dust settled, Jacob Garlick’s Abraham Trust won out over one of the property’s previous owners – Jeffrey Gural of GFP Real Estate – following a $190 million bid. Matthew Mannion of Mannion Auctions was the auctioneer.

The 14-story Manhattan office tower had been jointly owned by five companies: GFP Real Estate, Newmark, Sorgente Group, ABS Partners Real Estate and Nathan Silverstein. When the property’s longtime anchor tenant, MacMillan Publishers, move out in 2017, the owners had conflicting views about the future of the 120-year-old building.

The idea of an $80 million renovation was put forth, but Silverstein countered with a proposal to break up the building into five individually owned units. There were also talks about a possible hotel conversion. Ultimately, the Flatiron will likely continue to be used as an office space. Improvements efforts – led by Beyer Blinder Belle – eventually kicked off in 2019 and included updates to the existing lobby, upgrades to the AC system, façade changes, and a revised ground-floor retail frontage. There are also plans to reconstruct an entrance to a previously unused retail and restaurant space in the property’s basement.

However, tensions between the various parties continued and eventually resulted in the partition auction, which saw Garlick swooping in with the winning bid. This came as somewhat of a surprise to the previous owners, as they were hoping to use their existing stakes to place a “credit bid” on the property.

Originally built in 1901 as the first skyscraper north of 14th Street, the Flatiron Building had been auctioned off before.  In 1933, during the Great Depression, the owners at that time defaulted on a mortgage.

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Texas Triangle Dominates List of U.S. Cities with Most Vacant Land Available

Cities rise and fall based on the decisions they make regarding the best use of their resources — whether that’s the local talent pool, housing stock or business environment. And, contributing to all of these is the fundamental issue of how to manage and optimize the allocation of unused or underutilized land that can sustain housing needs and various economic activities.

To that end — and as a follow-up to a previous study on urban development and vacant parcels located in central business districts — CommercialCafe created an updated, city-wide analysis of vacant land availability and construction activity throughout 20 of the most populous urban centers in the U.S.

Specifically, by using the most recently available data from Property Shark and online government records, we estimated the total acreage and number of parcels, as well as the average lot size of undeveloped land within the cities in the ranking.

We also used CommercialEdge data to look at both planned and ongoing projects in the pipeline, highlighting specific local initiatives that seek to maximize the use of undeveloped parcels within cities. Additionally, where relevant, we provided a 10-year overview of industrial, office and residential construction activity at the city level.

Key Highlights:

  • Cities across the Texas Triangle have tens of thousands of acres of undeveloped land.
  • Densely built up areas such as New York City still have plenty of land for development
  • Charlotte and San Francisco have less than 1,000 acres of undeveloped land between them.
  • Industrial construction has been a vital component of all major cities’ pipelines since 2012, with the trend set to continue.

Before reading on, please consult our methodology section for a better understanding of the constraints that might have affected or influenced the interpretation of the findings within this analysis.

Cities Across the Texas Triangle Have Tens of Thousands of Acres of Undeveloped Land

Across the 20 most populous cities in the U.S. there are 516,980 acres of land currently still awaiting development – with the average lot size resting at roughly 1.22 acres.

Unsurprisingly for those familiar with the map of urban spawl across the U.S., cities across the South and Southwest boast tens of thousands of acres of undeveloped lots each.

Dashboard 1

Namely, Texas remained the home of urban sprawl with the highest number of entries on our list. In fact, with the exception of Phoenix — which landed in third place — the top five cities in terms of vacant land were all from the Lone Star state.

More precisely, Dallas led with a whopping 90,739 acres across more than 30,000 parcels with an average size of 2.72 acres. Since 2012, the city has added more than 40 million square feet of new office and industrial space to its inventory, spurred by an influx of businesses opting to relocate to Texas in recent years. Residential construction activity was also robust during the same period, with roughly 46,000 units developed throughout Dallas.

Then, this year, the city witnessed one of the biggest land sales in its recent history as 460 acres in the Mountain Creek development in southwest Dallas changed hands. The new owners will focus on residential construction in the area, with plans for new homes and apartments.

Not to be outdone, Dallas’ sister city, Fort Worth, Texas, boasted 74,835 acres of undeveloped land with average lot sizes around the 2.66-acre mark. Here, the city’s pipeline tilts heavily toward industrial development. In fact, no less than 51 million square feet of warehousing and manufacturing space were built between 2012 and 2022. And, the trend is set to continue in the near future as Fort Worth has 22 million square feet of new industrial space in the pipeline, either planned or under construction.

Notably, one of these planned developments is at the site of the former North Hills Mall along Boulevard 26 near Northeast Loop 820. The lot had been vacant since 2007 when the mall was razed, but city leaders are planning a three-phase construction project for the area, which includes single family homes and apartments, as well as some 60,000 square feet of commercial space. There’s also a proposal by Kairoi Residential to build an 825-unit apartment complex in the heart of the Fort Worth Stockyards. Moreover, a 24-acre tract in south Fort Worth is also up for grabs and marketed as the ideal location to fit some 572 newly built housing units.

Nestled between entries from Texas, Phoenix landed in third place with a grand total of 53,022 acres of vacant land. The city also boasted the third-highest average lot size on the list at 3.34 acres, behind only Oklahoma City and San Jose, Calif.

Notably, with a majority of the undeveloped land in Phoenix being government-owned, the City Council recently approved a list of 150 parcels to build new affordable housing in a push to create 50,000 homes by 2030. The project would consist of both single family homes and apartment complexes, depending on the varying sizes of the parcels at hand.

The other two Texas cities in the top five were San Antonio with roughly 35,000 parcels totaling 48,834 acres and Houston, which had more than double the number of parcels as San Antonio to total 46,168 acres. Accordingly, the average lot size in San Antonio was more than double that of its eastern neighbor.

Of course, both cities have witnessed strong construction activity in their respective commercial real estate markets since 2012, albeit at different scales. That said, Houston stood out among the cities on our list for adding the most industrial and office space to its inventory with 86.4 million, outranking even New York City in this regard. Houston also added the second-largest number of housing units (76,543).

Meanwhile, San Antonio’s decade-long focus on warehousing and industrial space development seems to be holding steady, as the city added 20.6 million square feet of new space since 2012. It’s also expected to add another 7 million in the following years.

Among the California entries in our ranking, Los Angeles placed the highest (sixth) with 42,228 acres of undeveloped land and an average lot size of 1.25 acres. Here, development remains focused on adding office space to the city’s inventory with roughly 11 million square feet in the pipeline (either planned or under construction).

Additionally, in January, a 260-acre plot of undeveloped land in Senderos Canyon came up for auction, opening up a host of development opportunities for interested parties. One of the major selling points of this plot — which cuts through the middle of Bel-Air — is that it has not yet been designated for a specific use. However, prospective buyers have already put forth proposals for a variety of projects for everything from a retirement community to a sprawling campus or an extensive wellness retreat.

Moving to seventh place, there’s a noticeable drop-off in terms of the overall vacant land acreage: Undeveloped tracts in Indianapolis added up to 26,604 acres — roughly half of the amount available in Los Angeles. What’s more, Indy also had the second-lowest number of housing units and office spaces built (within our ranking) throughout the decade, with the bulk of the construction activity in the market focusing on industrial properties (13 million square feet).

Granted, with only 13,471 units of housing built since 2012, attempts to increase Indianapolis’ residential inventory have also been underway. Most recently, the Department of Metropolitan Development drew up plans to take about 100 abandoned properties from the city land bank and offer them up for redevelopment, with special attention given to neighborhoods such as the Near Eastside, Martindale-Brightwood and Near Northwest.

Finally, Austin closed out the list of Texas entries on our list for vacant land availability in the top 20 most populous U.S. cities. Landing in eighth place, it had almost half of the acreage of undeveloped parcels at its disposal (25,117) as Houston.

Following an intense decade of commercial and residential development, Austin added some 38.4 million square feet of office and industrial properties to its stock, along with the third-highest number of housing units among our top 20 cities. Furthermore, when we considered ongoing or planned residential projects, Austin was second with 56,434 units to be built, behind only New York City.

Further south, the most populous city in Florida took the ninth position in this ranking with 24,396 acres of undeveloped land to its name and average lot sizes just under one acre: Jacksonville, Fla., had nearly 12.5 million square feet of industrial space in the pipeline, having already added some 15.6 million throughout the course of a decade.

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As a matter of fact, according to a recent study by Cushman & Wakefield, Jacksonville has been one of the Florida markets that has witnessed not only rapid growth in warehousing and industrial construction, but also remarkable property stabilization rates with more than 90% of buildings’ rentable square footage leased.

As is often the case, Florida prepared for its current success long before the current industrial boom with infrastructure growth projects at the ports and by investing in rail. The COVID-19 pandemic then turbocharged the expansion of e-commerce and the need for warehousing facilities.

Last, but not least, Denver closed out the top 10 with 8,390 parcels of vacant land totaling 17,962 acres and ranking just ahead of New York City. Average lot size stood at 2.14 acres.

In the Mile High City, residential construction contributed the largest share to overall construction activity in Denver since 2012. Yet, despite adding 48,260 new housing units in the last decade — with 28,958 more to be added in the near future — the city is still looking for ways to bring down its cost of living by increasing the number of affordable homes. Among the suggested solutions are a series of regulatory rollbacks, a rethinking of the restrictive zoning codes in place and subsidization of housing costs. A better use of government-owned undeveloped parcels has also been on the agenda, with land near parking lots, Regional Transportation District stops and other infrastructure hubs being highlighted.

Plenty of Opportunities for Development in NYC, Whereas Charlotte & San Francisco Have Less Than 1,000 Acres of Undeveloped Land Between Them

Interestingly, the drop-offs between entries in the second half of our list were much steeper: While New York City — which fell just outside of the top 10 — was close to Denver’s total, cities like Charlotte, N.C., and San Francisco had only a few hundred acres’ worth of undeveloped land at their disposal.

Despite a decade of intense commercial and residential construction (which saw the addition of 68.5 million square feet of new office space and 80,142 units of housing to the city’s stock), there’s plenty of room for development in New York City. Specifically, there are 17,393 acres of vacant land with an average lot size of 0.62 acres.

Plus, in a recent report, the East New York Community Land Trust identified 255 city-owned parcels of undeveloped land in Brooklyn alone. Some of these parcels are currently either vacant or act as parking lots. But, as is often the case in a dense, urban area such as New York, some of these parcels house abandoned or neglected structures that would need to be razed before building anew.

On the opposite coast, San Diego and San Jose, Calif., were the last cities in our ranking to feature more than 10,000 acres of undeveloped land with11,607 and 11,527 acres, respectively. Otherwise, the only two Midwestern entries were Columbus, Ohio, and Chicago in 15th and 16th places, respectively.

However, as we moved further down the ranking, there was a significant drop in the amount of undeveloped land as Philadelphia and Oklahoma City had less than 2,500 acres at their disposal. It’s worth noting here, though, that the two cities had very different breakdowns of their available land. For example, Philadelphia had the lowest average lot size at 0.08 acres, while Oklahoma had the largest average lot size among the top 20 (12.83 acres).

Finally, Charlotte, N.C., and San Francisco had the least amounts of vacant land among the top 20 most populous U.S. cities: The North Carolina city had 512 acres of undeveloped tracts with an average size of roughly six acres, while San Francisco had 473 acres for an average size of just 0.21 acres.

The Challenges of Urban Development in a Post-Pandemic World

The relentless growth of the tech industry throughout the last decade — which had spurred a chase for talent and drove much of the construction boom since 2012 — prompted many local governments to seize on any opportunity to attract such companies to their cities.

To that end, state and city officials competed to bring Silicon Valley giants’ offices, data centers, and warehouses to their cities to create high-earning jobs that would stimulate the local economy and communities. As a result, zoning restrictions were eased and tax rebates handed out in some cities, while vacant parcels of land were inventoried and allotted to entice developers by reducing building costs.

Then, the pandemic marked a series of concurrent shifts in the trends that shape our lives. In particular, industrial construction — especially that of warehousing spaces — was turbocharged by the exponential rise of online shopping. Consequently, for the first time, tech companies were facing layoffs rather than expansions, with many switching to hybrid work schedules and reducing their office footprints. This, in turn, made many office developers reconsider the preferred location and nature of our workspaces, with an increased emphasis on health and safety measures; flexible layouts; and lease options.

Of course, many of the fastest-growing cities in the U.S. have yet to fully address their ongoing housing shortages. Even so, as noted in our analysis, local authorities have been trying to boost the construction of new homes. The hope is that the lower costs that come from making vacant land parcels available for single family, multifamily or apartment complexes will encourage developers to build more affordable houses to address one of the most vital human needs.


This analysis compiles PropertyShark data and online government records to calculate the total acreage and number of parcels of undeveloped land throughout the 20 most populous American cities (ordered alphabetically): Austin, Texas; Charlotte, N.C.; Chicago; Columbus, Ohio; Dallas; Denver; Fort Worth, Texas; Houston, Texas; Indianapolis; Jacksonville, Fla.; Los Angeles; New York City, N.Y.; Oklahoma City; Philadelphia; Phoenix; San Antonio; San Diego; San Francisco; San Jose, Calif.; and Seattle.

Only parcels located within the city limits were included, contiguous and non-contiguous, regardless of size, as defined by U.S. Census Bureau’s 2022 TIGER/Line® Shapefiles: Places. We then further filtered these results to highlight any parcels labeled as undeveloped property at the time of our query. The inconsistencies and limits of any analysis on this topic have been addressed in our previous endeavor and they remain in place. The definition of “vacant land” varies from one urban area to another, and the frequency at which records are being updated is also dependent upon location. For the purposes of this study, we included lots that were mainly designated as “vacant lots-no improvements,” and carried a sub-designation matching “vacant commercial,” “vacant government-owned,” “vacant industrial,” “vacant residential” or “other vacant.”

Information on recently completed construction projects was compiled with the help of CommercialEdge data and is expressed as of December 2022, going back to January 2012. However, this data includes only buildings of at least 25,000 square feet.

Details on prospective, planned, or current construction were drawn from CommercialEdge data, highlighting the total office square footage and total residential units as of February 2023. We considered the property status as follows: “property status: under construction” reflects property on which construction is actively being carried out, whereas “property status: planned” project plans have approval, but construction is not yet being actively carried out.

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Logistics Plus Leases 374,000-Square-Foot Inland Empire Warehouse

Logistics Plus — a leading worldwide provider of transportation, warehousing, business intelligence and supply chain solutions — has secured a five-year deal to lease a 374,000-square-foot industrial space in Riverside, Calif. Owned by Trammell Crow Company (TCC) and located at 300 Palmyrita Ave., Columbia II sits on 19 acres in the city’s sought-after Hunter Park industrial corridor with direct access to I-215, CA 60, CA 91 and I-10.

Negotiations were handled by Colliers’ Kevin McKenna and CBRE’s David Consani on behalf of the landlord, while Jeremy Trotter of Foremost Commercial Real Estate Services represented the tenant.

Columbia II is part of a three-phase project by TCC and Washington Capital that kicked off in 2017. Spread across a total of 72 acres and totaling 1.5 million square feet of prime Inland Empire warehousing space, the development was designed to attract some of the biggest names in e-commerce and logistics.

The first phase of the project — which was sold to ASB Real Estate Investments for $124 million in 2019 — consists of a 1-million-square-foot facility, while the third phase will add an 86,853-square-foot building to the site.

“Despite increased construction activity over the past couple years in the Inland Empire, the market’s vacancy rate remains around 1%,” TCC’s Jared Riemer said. “Continued demand for large, high-quality logistics facilities has been fueling absorption and rent growth as occupiers flock to newer, more modern buildings.”

“As with Phase I, we started the second phase of Columbia Business Park on a speculative basis and secured a high-quality tenant,” said Tom Bak, senior managing director of TCC’s Newport Beach office.

Other recent noteworthy lease deals in the Inland Empire market included Skechers’ lease of 1 million square feet at 2600 John St. in Banning, Calif. from Logistics Property, as well as John Hancock’s 534,404-square-foot lease to Motivational Fulfillment at 15835 San Antonio Ave. in Chino, Calif.

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Novo Platform Joins BNP Paribas & Banco Master at 801 Brickell

Fintech company Novo Platform is the latest name to sign a lease at Miami’s 801 Brickell, following recent deals inked by São Paolo-based digital bank Banco Master and French banking giant BNP Paribas. Novo is set to occupy 18,450 square feet on the building’s 22nd floor for the next 12 years. It’s expected to move into its new premises in about 10 months, once renovations at the property are completed.

Colliers’ Stephen Rutchik and Tom Farmer represented the landlord, Nuveen Real Estate (one of the largest investment managers in the world), while Alec Kirshner of Current Real Estate Advisors negotiated on behalf of Novo.

“We could not be more pleased to welcome Novo and Banco Master to the 801 Brickell tenant roster,” said Charles Russo, southeast regional head for Nuveen. “As we work alongside Stephen and Tom on the Colliers team, 801 Brickell is poised to further capitalize on the strong tenant demand for office space in the Brickell submarket. The cross-section of industries represented by recent deals is a testament to the growth that south Florida continues to see, especially from financial services firms looking to solidify their presence here.”

In December, BNP Paribas closed on a 7.5-year lease agreement for 7,665 square feet of office space, while Banco Master signed an agreement for 5,228 square feet of space on the fifth floor of the building.

Plus, 801 Brickell’s prospects for a high occupancy rate for the upcoming years were further bolstered by the decision of two longtime tenants — Royal Bank of Canada and Charles Schwab — to renew their leases. Similarly, one year ago, Mastercard also renewed its lease agreement with Nuveen. Thus, with the addition of this latest deal with Novo, the 28-story tower’s occupancy rate has reached 93%.

Built in 1984, the 415,000-square-foot office space in Miami’s Brickell district is currently undergoing improvements that include a revamp of the lobby, on-site fitness center and conference rooms, as well as the addition of a tenant lounge.

The property (which Nuveen has owned since 2002, when it paid $80.3 million to acquire it) is also home to Komodo Miami, a high-end, southeast Asian eatery and gathering place for celebrities, athletes and local socialites owned by David Grutman’s Groot Hospitality.

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A Walkable Future to Look Forward To: How Walkability Affects Housing & Commercial Real Estate

The years following the onset of COVID-19 have led to a series of changes in the wider economic landscape. These then prompted the real estate industry to adapt to the pandemic’s many ripple effects, including the current inflationary environment, the rise of interest rates following a decade of quantitative easing, and fears about a looming recession.

Yet, in spite of these changes, the Foot Traffic Ahead 2023 report — commissioned by Places Platform LLC and Smart Growth America (with Yardi Systems as one of the research partners on the study) — found that Americans’ love for walkable urban areas remained strong. In fact, they were even willing to pay a premium to be a part of or bring their businesses into such communities.

The report distinguished between four types of urban spaces based on how they scored in terms of walkability or drivability, as well as size: The categories included type I walkable urban places; type II walkable neighborhoods; type III drive-ins; and type IV drivable sub-divisions.

Gauging the walkability of the 35 largest metropolitan regions in the U.S., the analysis found that amenity-rich, dense, mixed-use communities that could be reached through public transit and crossed easily on foot often came with a significant markup in price.

Notably, this premium was largely due to limited supplies because, generally, less than 5% of a region’s land can be considered walkable. As a result, many of the people who would benefit most from the advantages of these communities were priced out.

Meanwhile, as far as real estate assets, the price of office space was most likely to be influenced by its location within a walkable urban location. For instance, the office premium was as high as 105% in New York City; 83% in Boston; 56% in Chicago; and 36% in San Francisco.

Likewise, retail premiums also varied significantly across various markets. For example, the markup for retail spaces in San Francisco’s walkable areas was 41%. Conversely, in Washington, D.C. it was 107%, while the premium was roughly 27% in Chicago. In contrast, Portland, Ore., provided an 11% discount.

Of course, office spaces were the most widespread building use types across walkable urban places (making up 42.1% across the 35 metro areas surveyed). They were followed by multifamily rentals (30.4%), retail (18.5%) and for-sale residential (11.6%).

The lower percentage of retail space located in walkable areas was partly due to the challenges involved in fitting big-box retail buildings into what is (by its definition) a relatively small, compact and diverse area. As a result, some companies — like Target, Best Buy or The Home Depot — are trying to adapt and find a way into these walkable places.

Despite their small share of the overall urban space, walkable places are veritable engines of economic development, accounting for 19.1% of the U.S. gross domestic product. What’s more, many cities are also heavily reliant upon these areas to generate tax revenues from land values and other sales taxes. Therefore, this also leads to price increases for any commercial or housing units in these areas, creating an affordability gap.

Although premiums have decreased since the pandemic began, the high demand for walkable urbanism and the lack of supply continues to keep such desirable locations out of reach for many. So, according to the report, walkable places will play a pivotal role in the 21st century economy — in the same way drivable sub-urbanism did in the late 20th century — with the bonus of being far more socially equitable, sustainable and environmentally friendly than their predecessor.

For more highlights, read the full “Foot Traffic Ahead: Ranking Walkable Urbanism in America’s Largest Metros 2023” report.

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