The Island New York City Forgot

The view from North Brother Island in NYC

Introducing North Brother Island. It’s a once-developed island overgrown with trees. By itself, maybe not so interesting. But we are told in this business that location is everything, so it comes as a shock that this abandoned island is situated between Queens and the Bronx in New York City. You read that right: it’s New York real estate that has yet to be paved over.

The history of North Brother Island is fascinating, including a stay by the early 20th century legend “Typhoid” Mary Mallon, a hospital and a drug rehabilitation center, but most telling is the view from the highest point on the island. In the foreground, a broken brick chimney rises from the untamed trees, and in the background, the unmistakeable gotham skyline. Magnificent and creepy all at once.

Check out the entire photo essay at  An Abandoned Island Near NYC Used To House A Hospital.

[Photo credit:]

30. January 2015 by Wayne Grohl
Categories: Medical | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Commercial Real Estate News Roundup For January 29, 2015


Using events to anchor a co-workspace, using Chinese developers to pull towers out of San Fran ground, and using zingy jargon when consulting to convenience retail on how to sell more stuff — it’s all here in today’s Commercial Real Estate News Roundup for January 29, 2015.






29. January 2015 by Wayne Grohl
Categories: News | Tags: | Leave a comment

Three Walls: You’ll Never Think About The Cubicle The Same Way Again

three walls

As a researcher in commercial real estate, it’s not often I find a documentary film director turning their camera to an everyday interior feature of our industry to tell a compelling story, but that’s exactly what Three Walls delivers. It’s a Canadian filmmaker’s look at the birth, growth and journey of that building block of the modern office layout: the cubicle. Watch the 25-minute film here.

Its blurb reads:

With equal doses of deadpan humour and historical insight, the Canadian filmmaker Zaheed Mawani tackles the rise of the cubicle and the matter of why its inventor, the US designer Robert Propst, came to hate its implementation. Along the way, we hear office workers who spend their days fantasising about breaking free from their three-walled lives, cultural critics who lament the soullessness of the modern office, and even a few cubicle defenders.

The short film is a well-made, balanced and very watchable surprise, even managing to be poignant about the topic. While often overlooked, or assumed as a permanent fixture of the office, the cubicle can inflame passions these days as information technology, desuburbanization, and millennial worker demographics are all conspiring to reshape the office layout, and with it the expectations of its workers and managers. It’s not just tech companies that advocate for “openness” as a basic expectation, running counter to cubicles. But something like a backlash against that trend has been forming for some time now, with advocates for more enclosed workspaces saying that worker collaboration is less valuable than worker concentration.

No matter which side of the debate you end up on, Three Walls will make you think about cubicles in a whole new way.

27. January 2015 by Wayne Grohl
Categories: office | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Howard Tullman Of 1871 Talks Office Space, Workforce Mobility


At RE/Journal CRE Forecast Conference this week at Chicago’s Hyatt Regency, the proceedings kicked off with a one-on-one with Howard Tullman, CEO of 1871, the non-profit startup hub located in Chicago’s Merchandise Mart.

1871′s reputation as a hotbed of technology startup innovation companies is for real, and Howard’s philosophies are apparent in all details down to the office layout, which became a topic of conversation naturally enough.

1871 currently sports 325 companies with nine unique incubators and accelerators that use markedly different floor plans reflecting in part key commonalities to the tenant companies, whose business lines exceed the boundaries of just high technology.

Visibility — particularly visibility of project leadership by the newest tenants plays a key role in 1871′s office layout.

Newer arrivals begin by climbing a kind of ladder, settling into a class of workspace that offers the least ameneties, but is still in full view of the nicer digs nearby.  The trick is that the nicer space is where tenants whose businesses pass success milestones are moved, producing a kind of conveyor belt of visible success that drives the “Leadership [means] that people need role models and so we live it every day.  We figure if they’re watching [mentor and more advanced businesses] and seeing how we are executing and what our responsibilities are, that’s the best way we can model the commitment that we expect from them.”

Workforce mobility

“I think where we’re headed is a new kind of community. When we talk to our workforce [aged 25 to 55] this idea of proximity [to the workplace] is really significant.  They don’t want to own a car — that was a popular talk at the auto show recently [...]  the idea is that the workers want to be close to where they work.”

A return to focus

Tullman went on in the session to describe a real trend in office layout and work patterns toward focus and away from “openness”.

“Openness I think we’re going to see the next few years is going to go away. Kids today think they can multi-task, but multi-tasking means you’re doing a lot of things poorly. So what we’re discovering is [...] they go away so they can focus and get something done. This idea of being in a n open area with constant disruption is going to change and it’s going to change pretty soon.”

Wall unit makers, take note.


23. January 2015 by Wayne Grohl
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Target Bugs Out Of Canada, Closes All 133 Stores


Laura Heller at Fierce Retail reports on Target’s foray north of the border ending painfully, including a $1.6 billion loss and the closure of 133 stores.  After purchasing nationwide retail chain Zellers and its 220 stores in 2011, it opened an additional 124 units in a single year. The aggressive expansion was not rewarded with expanded profits.

“With the benefit of hindsight, I wished we wouldn’t have opened up so many stores as we did at once,” Mark Schindele, president, Target Canada told theMinneaplis Star Tribune a couple of months ago. “We probably should have scaled back from what we did to get it moving in the right direction.”

Losses at Target Canada total roughly $1.6 billion to date, reported the Star Tribune.

“When I joined Target, I promised our team and shareholders that I would take a hard look at our business and operations in an effort to improve our performance and transform our company,” said Brian Cornell, Target chairman and CEO. “After a thorough review of our Canadian performance and careful consideration of the implications of all options, we were unable to find a realistic scenario that would get Target Canada to profitability until at least 2021. Personally, this was a very difficult decision, but it was the right decision for our company.”

Read the entire piece at Fierce Retail here.


15. January 2015 by Wayne Grohl
Categories: Retail | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Commercial Real Estate News Roundup For January 14, 2015


Vegas rents are rising, cheap oil from the fracking boom is having unintended consequences in Houston, and home ownership’s biggest cheerleader, Freddie Mac, says renting is less popular than we thought. Quelle surprise! It’s all here in the latest Commercial Real Estate News Roundup for January 14, 2015.






14. January 2015 by Wayne Grohl
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Lost Chicago: Retail, Eateries And Industrial


There’s something nationally emblematic about the visual history of Chicago’s commercial real estate. Browsing a photo collection spanning the decades you can find a midwestern sensibility mixed with a gritty urban down-to-business look that speaks to a certain American outlook on business and enterprise. From the pre-WWII dawn of neon signage to elegant mid-century futurism to 1970s earth tones and softer typefaces, the look of American commerce in every era is about reaching and accommodating people.  Its’ a fascinating journey, and Craig’s Lost Chicago is ready to take you on a ride through the decades of Chicagoland’s restaurants, retail and industrial property history.

12. January 2015 by Wayne Grohl
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RPR For Commercial: New Animated Video

It’s always a pleasure to write about RPR, the incredible business advisory tool offered as a member benefit by NAR to its REALTORS®. In fact, I did just that at the recent RPR presentation at NAR Expo in New Orleans. But it’s double the pleasure when the pitch for RPR is summed up in a cool new animated short video targeted right at the commercial professional. RPR makes the work of matching the right locations to your clients’ business requirements easier and faster than ever before. Enjoy this clip — and create an account on RPR right here.

08. January 2015 by Wayne Grohl
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Commercial Real Estate News Roundup for January 7, 2015

Inside an abandoned mall in Allen, Texas. The ...

When malls die, when NIMBYs endorse commercial development, when law firms get rid of law books, and when Dixieland gets its industrial groove back: it’s all here in the Commercial Real Estate News Roundup for January 7, 2015.







07. January 2015 by Wayne Grohl
Categories: Property | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mastering the Intermediaries: Strategies For Dealing with Listing Services

English: Zillow logo

December 26th saw a joint SEC filing from the parties indicating that the Zillow-Trulia merger was being delayed yet again. February 15th is the latest date given for the final deal, the third such date given in the merger’s progress. The reason seems to be the parties are waiting for the Federal Trade Commission’s blessing with regard to antitrust.

With this major consolidation in the property listings space hitting turbulence yet again, it’s a good time to take a look at how commercial brokers and listing platforms relate.

While patrolling this marketplace and doing a little research, I had the good fortune to come across an article from Harvard Business School that spells out four fascinating business case studies about platforms — those businesses that get in between you and your customers — and how to prosper with them.

In Mastering the Intermediaries: Strategies for Dealing with the Likes of Google, Amazon, and Kayak, Benjamin Edelman does a terrific job exploring the historical options businesses have had in dealing with intermediaries such as as listing services.  It’s a fast read and absolutely worth the time.

05. January 2015 by Wayne Grohl
Categories: Listings | 1 comment

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