Castille at Carillon is one of our latest acquisitions and is a gem of a building in a very close-in suburb. We’re not big buyers of suburban product, as you know, Adam; we are more downtown players, but this particular location is right near the Raymond James headquarters and is also a location where numerous headquarters exist of major companies, like Franklin Templeton, and Raymond James, and others, and it’s within about a 10-minute drive of downtown St. Petersburg.
We view this as so close in to downtown and so densely populated that it became an exception to our rules to not buy outer suburbs. We bought this very, very well at about $173 a foot. Replacement cost was $350 a foot, minimum, to build this building. We are undergoing renovations of it right now, as we speak. I just drove by to look at the renovations yesterday, and I’m very pleased. We have some beautiful, gorgeous bathrooms which, believe it or not … People find this hard to believe – I get very excited about bathroom renovations.
Actually, this was our second online raise. Our first online raise was we sold a minority interest in our Morgan Stanley building to the public. That was a $9 million raise, which we did in early 2019; started in late ’18 and completed it in early 2019. This fundraising for Castille was completed in around August of ’19. We raised about $6 million.
We love the idea of online fundraising for a multitude of reasons. First of all, we find that in relying upon joint venture partnerships, the money runs hot and cold. There are times where we will speak to, let’s say, our partners at Goldman Sachs, and they will say, “Oh, my goodness, we really are interested in Tampa office. What do you have?” We’re able to convince them to go ahead and buy with us. Then a year or two later, they say, “Well, our main focus right now is multi-family.” Now, I’m making that up. That may have actually occurred to some extent … Those are the kinds of things that happen with our joint venture partners.
Once we own and manage, one of the things that we’ve determined that makes us more successful than any other developer is our relationship with the real estate brokerage community, which controls about 95 percent of the leasing that takes place in all of our office buildings. Specifically, what I mean is that about 95 percent of every transaction for a lease is brokered by a real estate leasing specialist.
Wooing those guys, and making sure we- and ladies, by the way … Making sure those folks are happy with us means we pay them more, we pay them faster, but then, paramount of both of those things is the speed at which we travel in terms of decision process, getting out proposals, and acting in a timely fashion.
Why is that? Well, brokers are very different in terms of their compensation than the ordinary office employee in America, where they only get paid upon the successful execution of the lease. So, if you are the player that gets them proposals faster, and can get a lease out quicker, and are less bureaucratic in your function, and can make quick decisions, then you’re the go-to guy they bring to the deal. I know that’s a little bit of a long-winded story, but speed of particle flow equals number of leases signed. The faster the speed at which you operate on leasing, the more deals you get done, and then the reputation of that speed precedes you and begets more deals.
When we operate with joint venture partners, inevitably there is a slowing down of the process. There is more of a committee function, where I get involved sometimes, and my joint venture partner may get involved. Then, in the slowing down of the process, you have the reverse effect of the things that I just talked about, which contributed so heavily to our success. It goes all the way back to the late ’80s and early ’90s in New York, when I first started running a major project. The key to that success was the speed at which we operated.
When we buy online, we are the sole manager of the venture. The decision process is very streamlined. My leasing chief, who is really one of the best in the business, has a degree of autonomy. If she comes to me with a deal, the policy is I come down the fire pole of the firehouse. If a lease is out there, it’s like the alarms are going off in the firehouse. We treat every broker like a valued customer- to respond to them within 24 hours and hopefully 20 minutes from the point of contact.
We are the sole manager of the venture. It’s not a committee approach, where there is a joint venture partner and a developer, where there are two chefs in the kitchen making decisions about leasing; making decisions about which cleaning contractor to use; making decisions about 100 different variables that go on in an office building.
Park Tower was a building we bought in joint venture with a public REIT, a REIT that we’ve had a 10-year relationship with the principals of. This is called City Office, and we are joint venture partners with them.
This was a building that was somewhat distressed, also, when we bought it. It is the best location in all of downtown in that it is at the crossroads of the two most important roadways in Tampa Bay – that being Kennedy and Tampa Street. Kennedy Boulevard and Tampa Street are the two most important arteries in probably all of Tampa Bay, and this is right on the corner.
Again, not much money had been invested in the building for many, many years. It was tired, rundown; occupancy was in the 70s, upon acquisition. We came in, in this case, with even a more radical renovation, and have spent … Between pure capital improvements, and tenant improvements, we’ve spent probably about $16 million renovating this building.
It now has been completely transformed. The lobby looks like it’s a brand new building; elevators all redone; corridors; tenant spaces that are very modern, cutting edge. It really has this sort of authenticity of this old building up on … The facade of the building looks old, but inside, it’s been very heavily modernized.
First Central Tower is one of three downtown St. Petersburg buildings that we own. It was a building that had fallen on hard times prior to our ownership. The previous ownership had not reinvested any money into the property for maybe 20-some-odd years. They just sort of held the property and didn’t do very much with it.
It sort of had the look and feel of a tired ’80s building. When you walked into the lobby, it just … The lighting was poor. There was a security guard with a silver badge, and a bad hairdo, sitting at the front desk. It was just a really not very pleasant-looking building. We came in, and we performed a lobby-ectomy to the lobby; completely gutted the elevator system with brand new infrastructure, and elevator cabs; redid the garage lighting; redid all the corridors.
When you walk into this building, today- a lot of people, when they walk into it, think it’s a brand-new building and have said to me, “What year was this built? Was it built in the 2000s, or was it built last year?” Those are the kind of questions we get. Of course, it’s a 1985 building, but so much of it was renovated, and I felt that I actually …
It’s funny, when we bought the building, I was worried about the location because it’s sort of a little bit on the edge of the prime-prime downtown. Now, of course, so much development has occurred as far as maybe 10 blocks further to the east of us here. So much development has occurred that, in effect, this is a mainstream location right now. We’re very pleased about the value. We’ve more than doubled the value of the building since the acquisition in 2014.
Morgan Stanley Tower was a building that had fallen on hard times due to the merger of Wachovia and Wells Fargo. This was excess baggage. Wachovia, at one point, was the anchor tenant. They moved out just before we started to negotiate the purchase of the building. While we were negotiating the contract, we heard the possibility existed of Morgan Stanley looking for a large amount of space. While we were actually negotiating the contract, we started negotiating with Morgan Stanley to put them in the building.
I’ll never forget that … This was in 2013, and Photoshopping, of course, was a big thing, already, at that point, but I was sort of new to it. We had a private cocktail party for the Morgan Stanley real estate and corporate users that would actually occupy the space. It was beautifully done with fine wine, and cheese in a conference room overlooking the skyline of downtown St. Pete.
We had, on easel, a big rendering, which was veiled. It had an onion-skin veil on it. I then announced to the Morgan Stanley group that we had been working round the clock, through the weekend, to put their name on the building, and then unveiled the building with their name up at the top in big three-dimensional relief, where you would actually swear that it’s a real sign because it was that realistic. Of course, it was just totally Photoshopped; but they all laughed, and they thought it was great.
A month later, we signed the lease right around the same time we closed title on the purchase of the property. Subsequently, then leased up the building further with many other tenants and took it from about 60-, 65-percent leased up to where it is right now, which is not 99-, not 98-percent, but it is 100.00-percent leased. We’re very, very proud of what we’ve accomplished there. I think it’s really one of the best buildings in downtown St. Pete; one of the best buildings in Tampa Bay right now.
Wells Fargo Center was acquired in 2012, and that was still the Dark Ages here in Tampa Bay; hard to imagine that 2012 was already a period of time where things were recovering, say, in New York, L.A., and Boston, but really not yet recovered in Tampa.
We were able to buy this property for a little over $100 per square foot, which was really an amazing buy. We did it in joint venture with Goldman Sachs, and Goldman Sachs was one of the few institutional partners that were willing to step up with us. We went through about a four-, or five-month convincing process to get them to go in.
Took the building from 70-percent leased to 93, within about a year and three-quarters after purchasing the building. We put in all new amenities; a brand-new full-service fitness center, the kind you’d see in a luxury hotel, maybe, or a professional fitness center that you go work out in. Put in an all-new lobby, all-new cafe; redid all the corridors, and many, many other things to the building, and basically have doubled the value of the building from that initial acquisition, or more.
We continue to own and manage it and have recapitalized it. Subsequently, now, our partner on the property is New York Life Insurance. So, Goldman Sachs hit their bonus season, were very happy with their investment, and now, we’re in more stable, long-term hands with a partnership- joint venture partnership with New York Life Insurance.
City Center in downtown St. Petersburg was one of our first buildings we bought in the post-crash era in Tampa Bay. At the time we bid on the property, I think we may have been one of maybe two bidders, and the other bidder was not terribly serious about owning it.
When we actually signed contract, I remember standing in front of the building and thinking about the purchase price. We actually purchased this building for about $15 million and change, which worked out to about $67 per square foot. I remember laughing to myself because, only a few years earlier, I had just gotten done leasing a building in Manhattan for $67 a square foot, and here we were buying the entire building – a waterfront building; Class-A building anchored by the Northern Trust Bank; right on the water near a great location, downtown St. Petersburg. This just gives you an idea of how depressed the valuations were in 2010, which was the year we purchased this building.
Then we proceeded to put about $6 million in CapEx into the building. We put another $4 or $5 million in tenant improvements; so maybe $10 or $11 million dollars was reinvested into the building. About two-and-a-half years into ownership, we raised occupancy from 40 percent, which was the effective occupancy when we bought the building- we were over 90 percent and have, then, subsequently taken it up right at 100 percent and have kept it in the range of 95 to 100 percent during our 10 years of ownership, subsequent to the initial lease up. So, we’re very proud of what happened at City Center.
Feldman Equities was formed in 1985 and is controlled by Edward Feldman who is President and Chief Executive Officer.
The Rockefeller townhouses are located at 13/15 West 54th Street, just west of Fifth Avenue in the heart of mid-town Manhattan. These buildings were formerly owned by the Rockefeller family and were built in 1895. They have been fully rehabilitated and are interconnected to a new 13 story office building located at 20 West 55th Street. This interconnection is achieved by means of an enclosed skylit atrium which extends from 13/15 to the rear of the townhouses to the rear of the new building.
Well, it’s quite an exciting story about this building, but none of which you’d probably want to print. Maybe you would … Our Vice President of the United States, Nelson Rockefeller, and former governor of New York, used to have his offices backing up behind these beautiful townhouses.
The Rockefeller family owned these since the early 1900s. They’re two twin townhouses joined together. That’s what you’re looking at right now. It’s actually two townhouses. Then, directly behind them were two other townhouses where his offices were.
What he would do is around 5, 6, 7:00 at night, he would go over to these townhouses where his secretary was waiting, where he was regularly schtupping her … This went on for years, and the press would be waiting for him on 55th Street, which is the street behind these townhouses, and he would never come out. They were always wondering where the hell he was. He would escape through these townhouses, get in the limo, and go the six or seven blocks to where his wife was, which is where he lived.
All that was going on for many, many years. The woman’s name was Megan, by the way- Megan Marshak. So, he was making Megan. One night, he has this massive heart attack and dies in the sack with this secretary. The family freaks out; does not call the police or anything; and they wait like five or six hours. They dress him all up like everything’s normal and then pretend that he was working in the townhouses, which was a complete lie. It all leaked out that he had been dead for hours before the coroner showed up.
Then, the woman disappeared and has never been heard from again. I think she’s alive, but nobody … She must have been paid so many millions. They just wanted to get rid of these townhouses as fast as they could. We were a lucky beneficiary. We paid $10 million for these two and the other two behind them. So, $2.5 million each for four townhouses. The value, today, would be like $50 million or some crazy number.
What we did was we built a new building. You can see it rising up slightly behind the buildings on 55th Street. We actually created an atrium between the new building on 55th, behind the buildings, and these old townhouses, which still exist, because they were a landmark; we couldn’t demolish them. So, as you walk through this atrium, you’re walking the same path that Nelson did to go make it with Megan.
The capability of the Feldman organization to handle all aspects of real estate development is well illustrated by the successful equity syndication of over a dozen projects which have raised equity capital in excess of $50,000,000. The Feldman brothers’ investor clientele is a diverse group including wealthy entrepreneurs, executive of “Fortune 500” companies, top celebrities and a myriad of others. At the core of this success is a flexibility and synergistic approach that are the hallmark of the Feldman organization.
During the 1980s, the original four Feldman brothers began to develop properties independently of each other.
Loews Quad Theatre in Levittown, NY.
That was one of the first quad ever built in the United States. That was groundbreaking. It was, I think, the first quad theater, maybe, in the New York area. Initially, for maybe two or three decades, when you went to the movie theaters – or maybe four decades – when you went to the movie theater, you went to one single screen; the one big auditorium and one screen.
The big breakthrough was a twin-screen theater, and then the metamorphosis of multi-screens was going from twin theaters to a quad theater. They called them quad theaters. It’s an antiquated term now because most of these suburban theaters are like 14 screens, or 15, or 13; but this was one of the first quad theaters in the country.
Nassau Mall in Levittown, NY.
Crescent Office Park in Levittown, NY.
Central III in Hartsdale, NY and East Meadow Shopping Plaza in East Meadow, NY.
The Feldmans are very proud to have developed the Atrium building Built in 1968, the building was one of the very first of its kind to incorporate an atrium garden.
In 1963, the Feldmans began the transition to do real estate development and, although they continued to perform construction work, they did so only for projects owned and developed by the Feldmans.
The firm has become a major developer of office buildings with nearly 3 million square feet of completed projects and more buildings now under construction.
Airport Terminal Buildings at Chicago O’Hare International Airport.
It was a competitive bid with the City of Chicago; it was then Mayor Daley, who is a famous, some say infamous mayor that was probably one of the most famous mayors in the country at the time, and even to this day.
The contract had a bonus-penalty provision for being on time or late. They actually beat the schedule significantly and demanded that the City pay them a big bonus. Richard Daley, the mayor, contested it, and they fought him. I don’t know whether they actually went to file suit, but they almost did- fought it and did get paid a bonus for beating the schedule.
These were the two main terminal buildings that still exist to this day. We don’t talk about it much because people hate these buildings. Most everybody has a nightmare story. “Oh, my God. I spent all night in this airport” or whatever.
By 1960, the company was listed as one of the top ten general contractors in the country.
800 Bed Veterans Hospital in Cleveland Ohio.
In 1950 the company was awarded a multimillion dollar contract to rehabilitate the Sampson Air Force Base at Geneva, New York. Shortly after the commencement of the construction, the government expanded the scope of the project due to the impending Korean war and 550 buildings were rehabilitated to a “crash program”. Aside from working factories overtime, the Air Force assisted by flying materials to the project, and the construction “around the clock”.
The company went on to build Nike and Atlas Missile Bases, atomic energy facilities of all types, sewage and water treatment plants, hospitals, residential, office and industrial buildings. One of the better known projects are the three main terminal buildings at O’Hare Airport, which were completed in eleven months through a Chicago winter, and for which the city of Chicago paid the firm a substantial bonus.
In the following years he saved his money and by 1910 “H.J.” was in business for himself. During the “Roaring Twenties”, he became one of the largest plumbing contractors in New York and as the firm expanded, contracts were taken on that included general construction of residential and industrial buildings.
Before long, “H.J.” was to receive four new employees in the form of his four sons, Sid, Irv, Ed and Sol.
Hyman Feldman arrived in Chicago during the winter of 1902 and got employment at the American Car and Foundry yards. His first week’s wages went towards buying a pair of eyeglasses which he bought from a local street vendor and what was left over paid for his food and shelter.
In 1900, a young Russian immigrant by the name of Hyman Joseph Feldman arrived in the United States.