Continue Reading at DNAinfo

As condo prices in Manhattan’s luxury market rise to record levels, fixer-uppers are one of the last options for bargain hunters.

Architect Marc Spector, principal of the Spector Group, has done interior work on several fixer-uppers. He said that renovating a 5,000 s/f apartment from the gut can cost between $800 and $1,500 per s/f, and yet he has noticed an “insatiable demand” for fixer-uppers.

“It’s all about location, that is the key. What you’re seeing in New York right now is that those who have the means are looking for these diamonds in the rough,” he said. “The challenge is finding an apartment that hasn’t been changed in 30 years. If you can find them, you can renovate and sell them with an enormous profit.”



Click here to read full story in the New York Times

Still, regardless of the relative affordability of a New York City mansion, the desire to live in such homes “is a throwback to the Gilded Age of residences, of the social extravagances we saw in the early 1900s,” said Marc B. Spector, a principal of Spector Group Architects. “Those that have the means, the extreme wealth and prominence, are seeking once again to put their mark on the city.”



The reinvention of the World Financial Center into Brookfield Place is starting to pay off.

As The Post first revealed yesterday, with the signing of premier luxury-retail tenant Hermès to a prime spot near the 67-foot-tall glass pavilion entryway, Brookfield Properties’ $250 million redevelopment investment is beginning to roll in its targeted tenancies.

Hermès will be joining a select and growing roster that already includes Michael Kors and Burberry — with more on the way.

The shopping will start in the fall of 2014.

“Brookfield Place is becoming the destination of choice for luxury brands,” said Ed Hogan, director of leasing for Brookfield Properties. “We are going to have luxury retail, we will have contemporary fashion, and we will have other like-kind brands.”

“We are going to have a nice big fitness center, day care, valet parking and are negotiating for a culinary school,” revealed Melissa Coley, a spokeswoman for Brookfield.

The second-level dining terrace will have 14 concepts and water-view seating for 600 people, while a 23,000-square-foot market area on the ground floor, run by Peter Poulakakos, will offer takeout or indoor and outdoor dining.

“We’ve already signed SkinnyPizza in the dining terrace and are bringing many of our exclusive, high-end clients [here],” said Kim Mogull, CEO of Mogull Realty, who is representing tenants in several deals at Brookfield Place.

Brookfield Place is being connected to the World Trade Center site across West Street with an upcoming at-grade crossing and a unique underground East-West Corridor that will connect to the PATH, subways and Oculus area. The current bridge will soon be closed.

Spector Group is the Executive Architect at Brookfield Place.


Link to article on the Commercial Observer here!

The point guard—otherwise known as the playmaker—is my favorite position on a basketball team. Why, you ask? Because I, as an architect, can relate.

When working with a tenant or in tandem with a landlord, architects often take possession of the metaphoric ball, assuming a role that resembles that of any point guard. One way we do so is by obtaining construction cost estimates so that the broker can take on the position of coach.

Armed with a realistic projection of the budget, the broker can advise his or her client of costs per square foot and factor that number into negotiations. Then it’s up to that team to deliver—in this case, to make the deal happen.

Providing that critical support is the name of the game, and it often involves tapping the expertise of several general contractors or construction managers with whom the architect has relationships and from whom he or she has received accurate bids in the past. This process can take place before a lease has even been signed or while the deal is being manifested and negotiated, but preferably before any detailed drawings are done.

This leads to my next point: it’s not just about dollars and cents. Sure, all tenants want the space of their dreams to fall within the perfect budget, but that’s not to say there’s not more to consider. Just like with any winning team, chemistry between all of the players is an essential element—the architect, owner’s rep, landlord, tenant, subcontractors and construction manager should all be able to work together harmoniously.

Many buildings, for a variety of purposes, also ask that the contractor be on their list of approved vendors, so that’s another factor we take into consideration. From there, fees can be worked out and a fair deal can be negotiated, particularly when there’s an ongoing relationship. However, that’s not to say that non-preferred contractors can’t be used—we’re always open to looking at new, talented builders—but their qualifications would have to be vetted and they would have to be approved by the building beforehand.

Knowing when to pass the ball—and to whom—is critical, particularly when you only have a few days to put together a budget, a common occurrence in our industry. Managing the estimating process is just as important as supporting the brokers in other parts of the deal, such as measuring square footage for accuracy or discussing layout options. Doing that due diligence saves plenty of headaches for the broker and his or her client. Coordinating bids to put together the perfect team—the one that delivers on time and within budget—can then be a real “win” for us and for our clients.


Spectorgroup is the Architect and Planner for the Elmont Town Crossings at Belmont Park project.

New York Cosmos Release: The New York Cosmos announced today, June 4, 2013, that Emirates Airline has agreed to a sponsorship deal to become the jersey-front sponsor of the club. This agreement makes Emirates a Founding Partner of the New York Cosmos in their North American reboot season. The announcement was revealed today by New York Cosmos Honorary President Pelé, club Chairman Seamus O’Brien and Nabil Sultan, Emirates Divisional Senior Vice President of Revenue Optimization and Distribution, at a news conference at the Four Seasons Hotel New York.

“This is a big day for the future of the New York Cosmos,” Pelé said. “It’s wonderful to be part of such a pre-eminent soccer family.”

“We are delighted that we could create this partnership and bring such a world-renowned organization to United States soccer for the first time,” O’Brien said. “There’s no bigger corporate supporter of sports, and soccer in particular, than Emirates. We’re proud and honored that the Cosmos are part of their plans for America and New York in particular.”

“New York has a rich tradition of sport, and Emirates proudly supports some of the world’s top soccer teams, including AC Milan, Hamburger SV, Arsenal FC, Olympiacos FC, and Paris Saint-Germain, plus the recently announced shirt sponsorship of Real Madrid just last week. Therefore, choosing to support the relaunch of the Cosmos back to this amazing city was an obvious choice,” said Nabil Sultan. “As with our sponsorship of the U.S. Open tennis tournament, Emirates views our partnership with the Cosmos as a way to thank the people of New York for making Emirates one of the world’s fastest growing airlines. Along with their fans all across the region, we look forward to watching the Cosmos reclaim their title as New York’s legendary soccer team.”

Cosmos 5


The Fly Emirates logo will adorn the legendary Cosmos green and white shirts produced by Nike beginning with the 2013 North American Soccer League (NASL) fall season. The jerseys will make their debut on Aug. 3 at the Cosmos’ opening match against the Fort Lauderdale Strikers.

Emirates will benefit from significant branding at Cosmos matches in and around Hofstra University’s Shuart Stadium, as well as online through the New York Cosmos’ social and digital media channels. Additionally, Emirates becomes the presenting sponsor of Cosmos Copa, a soccer tournament played in New York City between local, community-based ‘national teams.’ Emirates and the Cosmos will also activate a number of unique and interactive events in New York around the NASL season.


Link to article here

According to the Journal of Corporate Real Estate, workplace strategy is defined as the dynamic alignment of an organization’s work patterns with the work environment to enable peak performance and reduce costs. Increase productivity? Save money? I hope by now your ears have perked up.

In the commercial design world, workplace strategy is so much more than just the phrase of the moment; it’s a way to use our expertise to benefit our end-user clients. Over the past few years, there has been a shift in consciousness. The offices that made sense 50 years ago do not necessarily suit today’s collaborative, technology-laden work force. Employers want to foster interaction and knowledge sharing, and they are increasingly calling upon architects like me to help them do so.

Get a Plan in Place:

In a crowded, competitive market such as New York City’s, a workplace strategy must begin with looking not only at the efficiency of the space, but also at the needs of the employees. One must go beyond the basic, “We need 12 offices, 10 desks and a couple of conference rooms.” A good starting point is considering where the work force is commuting from.

Are the majority of employees taking trains and subways into Manhattan because they live in Queens, Brooklyn, Long Island, Westchester or points north? If so, positioning the firm next to the major transportation hubs is not just a convenience, but a major point in recruiting and long-term retention. Never mind that the firm’s partners are lifelong Manhattanites—the needs of the masses must be considered. A skilled architect can help a client pull the data and metrics needed to choose an optimum location for its offices and help that client consider key co-tenants in the building—other companies with which there is a synergy—to feed off of their business model.

Another consideration is the type of company. An innovative startup whose employees are young tech experts might want to think about what train lines connect to the hip neighborhoods in lower Manhattan and Brooklyn, for instance, while a firm whose clients are primarily in Midtown might want to stay in that district to make it easier to hold meetings there.

Make Work More Workable:

Now let’s discuss the physical work environment. Numerous studies have been published over the years indicating that proper lighting and ergonomics lead to a more productive, healthier work force. In a positive development, many companies are considering this when relocating or ordering new furniture.

However, additional factors should be discussed. Will flexible workstations be more suited to the company’s dynamics? Perhaps a portion of the employees work remotely or attend meetings regularly. If so, this should be a consideration when creating the workplace strategy. Are there enough private meeting rooms for internal brainstorming sessions and appointments with clients? If not, how can you design these within a limited amount of space?

Recent benchmarking studies conducted by our firm suggest that most existing financial service firms have 120-square-foot office spaces, while the trend these days is toward 100-square-foot offices. They also typically have 36 to 48 square feet of open space, a contrast to the 30 square feet or less that can be possible through cost-saving measures such as densification and the use of benching. Office sharing is also less commonly seen, even though consultants and hoteling are on the rise. Should these companies make some adjustments? That is something that can be more accurately determined with the guidance of an architect.

With many corporations citing that only 30 to 50 percent of their offices are used at capacity at any given moment, it’s time to put some extra planning into play. A workplace strategy will help a company make the most of what it has and make the kind of choices that lead to business success, now and in the years to come.


Here’s a typical day—in the life of an architect, anyway.

I head to the Chelsea waterfront to meet with a passionate entrepreneur who has his finger on the pulse of the social media world. We go over the approvals for the company’s new offices in a collaborative meeting area that doubles as the firm’s pantry. A serious discussion takes place while an employee heats up an Amy’s breakfast burrito. Nobody blinks an eye.

That afternoon, I head uptown to assist a hedge fund client in the site selection process, and I’m in a glass-and-anigre-wood conference room with all the required trappings. While these two clients are as different as night and day, there is a common thread that binds them together: they’ve become my friends.

In this day and age, when the term “friend” is thrown around loosely—you’ve been sent a friend request!—its meaning has been somewhat diluted, especially at the point where personal and business relationships intersect. So, what does it really mean to be someone’s friend in the business world? For me, it’s always been about trust.

When a landlord or a tenant depends on me and my design team to weigh in on a tough transition or guide them into the next phase of their design decisions, they are placing a vote of confidence in us. It’s a responsibility I take seriously. After all, you don’t have the same client for decades without a genuine bond, and in order to thrive in today’s competitive economic climate, referrals and repeat business are musts.

While I love the more technical side of my job (yes, I relish discussing day lighting, site logistics and the latest innovations in green design with anyone who will listen—and plan to do so in this column in the coming weeks), I realize that having business skills without people skills is like having a stellar basketball team without a point guard. The combination of the two is a slam dunk!

However, it hasn’t been just fun and games. The architecture industry has undergone some dramatic changes over the past few decades. Shifts in the economy and the real estate market, the launch of social networking as a business tool and a new crop of hip young entrepreneurs have shaped the industry as we know it today.

Architecture professionals are, more than ever, asked to be beside a client, not just to celebrate groundbreakings and topping offs, but to advise honestly on critical work force decisions. This requires business savvy and the ability to be, yes, a good friend.


Sleek design of the six-story Audi and VW flagship dealerships in New York City offers consumers the ultimate vehicle-shopping experience -
Herndon, VA – Audi and Volkswagen today announced the grand opening of two new flagship dealerships in New York City. The $135 million financing is Audi and Volkswagen’s largest investment in a dealership real estate project, and is part of the company’s continued growth strategy and operations expansion in the United States.

The brands will kick off the dealership opening with a joint celebration on May, 10, 2013. Attendees included top leaders from both brands including Mr. Hans Dieter Pötsch, member of the board of directors of Volkswagen Group of America.

“As the nation’s leading business hub, and one of the largest and most diverse cities in the world, New York City has always been a vital market for Volkswagen in achieving long-term U.S. growth,” said Jonathan Browning, president and CEO, Volkswagen Group of America, Inc., who visited the new Volkswagen flagship today. “We are proud to continue our commitment to the U.S. market with the grand opening of these flagship Manhattan stores and look forward to having customers in the region visit our newest home.”

“As part of Audi’s U.S. growth strategy, the brand is making major investments in the quality of its dealer network. From facility upgrades to flagship store openings, the Audi dealer network in the U.S. will continue to expand and evolve,” said Scott Keogh, president, Audi of America. “This stunning new flagship Manhattan location is yet another step toward Audi’s goal of becoming the number one luxury automaker in the U.S.”

Beyond this project, the Volkswagen Group is committing $5 billion in North America over the next three years to further strengthen its portfolio and presence in the market.

Strategically located on 11th avenue, between West 56th and West 55th streets in Manhattan, the ultra-modern dealership facility comprises two fully integrated buildings, spanning 265,000 square-feet.

The Volkswagen and Audi dealerships each consist of a main floor showroom, with 17 Volkswagen and 35 Audi service bays. The Volkswagen showroom features its White Frame design concept, which provides a visual framework that highlights the brand’s identity. Audi’s Terminal design showroom features performance, luxury and environmental themes that the brand has become known for in its vehicles.

The original structure of the renovated Volkswagen and Audi facilities was built in the 1930s. Both dealerships will be operated by Open Road Auto Group of Bridgewater, N.J., one of the largest dealers in the area, with retail sales of 19,597 new vehicles in 2010. The group has 14 other dealerships in New York and New Jersey.

About Volkswagen of America, Inc.
Founded in 1955, Volkswagen of America, Inc., an operating unit of Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. (VWoA) is headquartered in Herndon, Virginia. It is a subsidiary of Volkswagen AG, headquartered in Wolfsburg, Germany. VWoA’s operations in the United States include research and development, parts and vehicle processing, parts distribution centers, sales, marketing and service offices, financial service centers, and its state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The Volkswagen Group is one of the world’s largest producers of passenger cars and Europe’s largest automaker. VWoA sells the Beetle, Beetle Convertible, Eos, Golf, Golf R, GTI, Jetta, Jetta SportWagen, Passat, CC, Tiguan, Touareg, and Routan vehicles through approximately 600 independent U.S. dealers.
“R-Line”, “TDI”, “VW”, “Volkswagen”, all model names and the Volkswagen logo are registered trademarks of Volkswagen AG.

About AUDI
Audi of America, Inc. and its U.S. dealers offer a full line of German-engineered luxury vehicles. AUDI AG is among the most successful luxury automotive brands globally. Audi was a top-performing luxury brand in Europe during 2012, and broke all-time company sales records in the U.S. Through 2016, AUDI AG will invest about $17 billion on new products, facilities and technologies. Visit or for more information regarding Audi vehicles and business topics.