Over the past few years, New York has earned a reputation as one of the fastest growing tech centers in the United States. Entrepreneurs are flocking to the area to benefit from the city’s business-friendly government initiatives, access to venture capital and funding, and some of the most qualified tech workers in the country. New firms are popping up all over Manhattan, but no other neighborhood on the island has seen the sudden rise of tech startups that Midtown South has – and astute investors and owners like the Moinian Group are in a great position to take advantage of the sector’s rapid growth.
Founded by Joseph Moinian in 1982, the Moinian Group currently owns more than 20 million square feet of commercial, retail, residential and hotel properties across the country, including nearly 800,000 square feet in five Wired Certified office buildings in Midtown South. Like many other investors in the area, the Moinian Group was faced with the challenge of bringing their Midtown South properties up the expectations of modern TAMI tenants.
“Most of those assets are vintage, and the buildings had other main uses before they became tech-friendly,” says Gregg Weisser, Senior Vice President of Commercial and Retail Leasing for the Moinian Group.
Weisser points out, for example, that the Moinian Group’s 26-story property at 245 5th Avenue was previously known as a “rug center”. “It was where people used to buy & sell rugs and carpets. They weren't worried about connectivity, many points of entry where the electric comes in, or the amount of electricity that was required. But the world has changed, and these assets need to be modernized to 21st century needs.”
Out of the numerous upgrades made to their Midtown South properties – renovations including new lobbies, elevators, HVAC, electrical, and cosmetic improvements – the Moinian Group chose to pay extra-special attention to their internet infrastructure, with Weisser emphasizing the fact that “connectivity is something that’s hugely important” and a “must have.”
“We try to be partners with our tenants and with all of the service providers,” Weisser said while referring to internet service providers. “We typically have two or three service providers in each building. If a tenant tells us they prefer another carrier, we'll either work with the tenant to set up the service or we'll tell them that they can have it installed.”
A reoccurring theme that Weisser says he has heard time after time from both existing and prospective tech tenants is that “they all need a robust type of connectivity, and that they all reach out through technology to their existing client base and to new potential customers.” He went on to add that “they want to know that the facility that they're in is the most up-to-date” and “that if they want a particular service, that we will assist them in every way possible.”
One of the tools that the Moinian Group has used to attract leading tech tenants is Wired Certification. Not only have all five of their Midtown South properties met WiredScore’s rigorous standards for certification, but four of the buildings have gone above-and-beyond to earn the Wired Certified Silver designation and beyond.
“We spend a lot of time and energy making sure that when we get certified; our tenants absolutely deserve it,” remarked Weisser. And based on their lower-than-average vacancy rates and the widely positive feedback from their tenants, it seems like the Moinian Group’s investment has definitely paid off.
According to Gregg Weisser, part of the attraction of Midtown South is that it’s an “area where tech people and Millennials want to live, work, and play. It’s a vibrant environment with cost-effective housing and restaurants open 24/7, and most people can walk or ride a bike to work. They can have a lifestyle that provides exactly what these people are looking for.”
“The truth is that the generation of employees that these companies are seeking are much more social – and in fact, are required to be social to get their job done – than in the past,” added Weisser.
That lifestyle seems to have also spread out to other local neighborhoods, boosting the real estate market along with it. In addition to their five Midtown South office buildings (60 Madison, 72 Madison, 450 & 460 Park Avenue South, and 245 5th), the Moinian Group also owns seven popular “Brownstone-esque” buildings in the nearby area, from 17th Street to 24th Street, that they refer to as West Gramercy.
When asked if he has any advice for other Midtown South property owners trying to connect with TAMI tenants, Weisser stressed the importance of working with a tech-savvy brokers. “Not every broker that represents those types of tenants in the marketplace are very savvy themselves. I think that the more a broker can be completely familiar with a tenants requirements, the more useful they will be in working with their clients and building owners to find the right property for that tenant.”