The unexpected fast recovery in the Manhattan hotel market has spurred developers
such as Sam Chang and Hidrock Realty to dust off once-stalled projects or start new
ones as room rates and occupancy levels have grown over the last year.

“We are seeing renewed interest in projects that have been stalled,” hotel consultant
John Fox, a senior vice president at Colliers PKF Consulting, said. “Despite significant
additions to the supply of rooms over the past few years, occupancies are at levels
approximating those before the declines that started in September 2008.”

Hidrock has sold 29 E. 61st St., the five-story location now home to Serafina, to
an unidentified buyer for $21 million, or $1,250 a square foot – yielding a 3.8 percent
cap rate on existing rents, said Massey Knakal’s Guthrie Garvin, who brokered the
deal with Jeffrey A. Shalom.

Hidrock succeeds in buying 960 Sixth Avenue “the new way”

Late last month, Hidrock Realty Inc. took control of a 16-story office building at 960 Sixth Ave. the new way – buying up a distressed mortgage at a discount and then foreclosing the borrower.

It may sound simple, but it’s not. In fact, hundreds of real estate investors are trying to duplicate the success achieved by Hidrock and a few others but are struggling to overcome a series of unexpectedly high barriers.

Contrary to widespread forecasts, few distressed mortgages have come up for sale, and the limited supply has driven up prices. Additionally, there is very little public information on the properties that the mortgages are financing, and foreclosing an owner can mean years of expensive legal wrangling.

Hidrock to build it’s first Manhattan hotel at 960 Sixth Avenue

Hidrock Realty, a family owned real estate investment company, is planning to embark
on what appears to be a pretty gutsy move: develop its first Manhattan hotel in a market
that’s recovering but still far from robust.

But Hidrock is able to move forward with some confidence because of the enormous
discount it just got on a near-empty office building near Herald Square which it plans to
convert into a hotel. Hidrock paid about $40 million for the 100,000-square-foot building
at 960 Sixth Ave., less than half of the $105 million the former owner paid for the
property in 2007.

Abraham Hidary’s Hidrock Realty won the 100,000-square-foot office property at 960 Sixth Avenue in Herald Square this week in a long-expected foreclosure auction nearly eight months after his company bought a defaulted senior mortgage on the property for about $40 million.

According to Hidrock Realty Inc., a grand opening of Aroma Cafe was recently celebrated, under a new, approximately 4,000 square foot lease at 35 West 36th St.

The tenant’s build-out of the space features hardwood floors, a mixture of pendant and recessed lighting, lofted ceilings, an ADA-compliant bathroom, and a sushi bar to support the restaurant’s quick and convenient, market-like offerings of kosher pizza, sushi and falafel, as well as other menu items.

Tenants are still at the wheel, so how can landlords be successful? We turned to Hidrock Realty prez Abie Hidary, whose firm owns and manages eight buildings in NYC, as well as assets in Brooklyn, South Florida and Pennsylvania. The key, he says: be “very good” to the brokerage community – be upfront, pay them in a timely manner, build quality space quickly, and keep lease documents to the point. Hidrock has also ramped up marketing, with leasing director Robert Kaplan taking small groups on private building tours, allowing the firm to build more personal relationships and introduce “uptown” brokers to affordable quality space around Bryant Park and Penn Plaza.

Everyone knows that Michelle Obama helped put Jason Wu on the map. But
the subsequent publicity blitzkrieg couldn’t have come at a more apropos time.
Wu was already riding a high from a previous (self-dubbed “breakthrough”)
spring 2009 show, which saw a $1.2 million jump in sales. “We were ready for
that next area of expansion,” Wu, 27, remarks.

And expand he has. Of all the designers in the Obama fashion tribe, Wu has
taken most obvious advantage of his fortuitous moments in the spotlight. In the
past year, the Taiwanese designer launched a pre-fall collection, sales of which
are already 45 percent over initial projections; sunglasses, with Modo Eyewear;
his own GE digital camera, licensed by General Imaging; a capsule collection
with Tse Cashmere, and has plans to enter the footwear market by 2011.

Hidrock is announced as the winner of the 2009 Property Improvement Award
from the Fashion Center Business Improvement District

The award is in recognition of its significant renovations at 53 West 36th Street.

“We are proud of our accomplishments at the 53 West 36th Street property,” said
Eddie Hidary, vice president at Hidrock Realty. “With a $3 million dollar building-wide renovation project, we were able to effectively improve the building’s overall look
and feel, as well as its efficiency, including a complete redesign of the lobby, front entrance and facade.”