2020 Roundtable

Research & Publishing Archives

Past research has included studies of affordable housing in New York City, New York City Brownfields, development in Queens, and a planning study for the Allen AME Housing Development Corporation. A CUNY Urban Consortium sponsored by the Institute brought together the resources of CUNY schools and departments that focus on urban issues. This interdisciplinary group addressed planning and design issues that affect the future of the city and metropolitan region, and they created symposia and seminars to explore these issues in public forums.

The Institute’s past publications include the journal, "Properties," which served as a forum for identification and discussion of key real estate issues facing New York City and the metropolitan region. Among many titles and subjects: West Side Story; The Future of New York: An International Perspective; The Future of the Manhattan Office Market; A Bronx Profile; A REIT Assessment; roundtables on commercial, residential, and retail Manhattan; and Between Expedience and Deliberation (an assessment of NYC’s and the region’s prospects immediately after 9/11.)

Below are links to more information about this work.

This Recovery Explained

This Recovery Explained

In mid-September, 2010, the Business Cycle Dating Committee of the U.S. National Bureau of Economic Research announced that the recession of 2007 - 2009 officially ended in June, 2009. That is when many, but not all, of the key broad-based indicators of economic performance shifted from declining to rising. This gave the country's economists a benchmark to assess the recession and the emerging recovery. It can now be said that the recession was the longest and deepest in the post-war era. It can also be said that there is an emerging state of recovery, although, as it is widely known, the recovery is sluggish.

Open Space Redefined

Open Space Redefined

Union Square Park has undergone several dramatic transformations. Most recently, it's north end was renovated in a way that included many significant improvements. These include a new and expanded playground; a finished plaza with utilities for the Greenmarket farmers; new shade trees and flowering trees; new light poles, both in and around the park; new lighting for the Abraham Lincoln statue and the James fountain; a renovated pavilion ready for seasonal concession and providing off-season community space; and new public restrooms.

Banking on the Future

Banking on the Future Report

One of the most difficult challenges facing New York and the nation is the dire condition of our roads, bridges, and other transportation infrastructure. And yet New York state has no concrete strategy in place when it comes to repairing and upgrading public infrastructure. A promising solution to address these looming infrastructure needs-- and to assure a more prosperous future-- is the establishment of a national, regional or state infrastructure bank.

24-Hour Cities, Part 3 of 3

24 Hour Cities

For rents, vacancies, and returns, the Central Business Districts in 24-hour cities have shown more favorable performance than for their own suburbs, and also have outperformed the downtowns of the 9-to-5 cities. Economic theory suggests that, if such conditions prevail over time, capital should flow disproportionately to the 24-hour metros, and even more disproportionately to their central business districts. It is now possible to test that proposition empirically.

Unprecedented Visibility

Unprecedented Visibility

This case study presents Vornado's efforts to engage its submetered tenant base in its energy reduction and sustainability efforts by providing tenants with their real-time energy usage. By making energy usage data available to the users of energy in a building, coupled with a sustainability outreach program, Vornado's energy and sustainability team has worked to reduce energy consumption and to identify and eliminate wasteful practices.

Discovering Distressed Assets

Discovering Distressed Assets Report

Knowing that Commercial Mortgage Backed Securities (CMBS) is simply a packaging of commercial real estate loans can open an investor's eyes to a new universe of potential investments that others fail to see. Whether looking for distressed assets, managing a loan workout, or monitoring a CMBS portfolio, there are strategic techniques that can be applied by a real estate practitioner to maximize access to useful information and reveal insights waiting to be discovered.

The Evolving Landscape

Evolving Landscape report

A working group from the New York City Building Performance Stakeholders Consortium, an assembly co-sponsored by the Steven L. Newman Real Estate Institute and the CUNY Institute for Urban Systems’ Building Performance Lab, found that it would be best if federal stimulus funds were incorporated with incentive programs and public-private financing mechanisms to provide a clear pathway for projects at the scale required to transform NYC’s commercial property. The purpose of this paper is to describe the elements of such a pathway so that property owners may more readily walk down it.

Waves of Opportunity

Waves of Opportunity

Many people in the real estate industry had predicted a "tsunami" of distressed assets coming to market. This dynamic has not occurred, however, since the general awareness developed of problems with commercial real estate. Robert Knakal explores the market movement of distressed properties in this paper and provides insight on what might be ahead and why. The dynamics of the construction industry is also explored as it relates to real estate, and a discussion of what can be expected after a “natural bottom” is reached is provided.

Reconsidering Gowanus

Reconsidering Gowanus

The decision by the U.S. Department of Environmental Protection to designate the Gowanus Canal as a Superfund site will substantially protract the time horizon for additional residential and commercial development along the canal. However, the 10 or 12 years that it will take to complete the Superfund's environmental cleanup offers the city, the community, and private developers an opportunity to plan for additional remediation and future development. Recognizing the area's great potential, there is a growing consensus within the Gowanus community for an inclusive framework for redevelopment that will both preserve the area's distinctive social, economic and architectural fabric and set the stage for growth.

24-Hour Cities-Part 2 of 3

24 Hour Cities Report PArt 2 of 3

The data provided by the National Council of Real Estate Investment Fiduciaries ("NCREIF") on commercial real estate investments by the pension fund industry proves to be a useful way to evaluate comparative performance of investment returns in 24-hour cities and 9 to 5 cities. NCREIF returns over time and cyclical differences reflect the strengths that downtown 24-hour metropolitan areas in particular offer in the form of rental premiums. Across the board, the investment performance of 24-hour cities is positively differentiated from that of the 9 to 5 cities when the property-type specification is precisely defined.

A Precarious Balance — Inflation, Deflation and Real Estate

precarious balance report cover - click to download

Over the past two years, the economies of the Americas have experienced the most severe stress in seven decades. The collapse of the residential real estate sector in the US in 2007 triggered the financial crisis that led to the worst recession since the Great Depression. The government response to this crisis was massive. There was an unprecedented increase in liquidity and government spending to stimulate growth. Between the Federal Reserve and Treasury, an estimated $16 trillion in programs was authorized to put the financial system back together and to stimulate the economy.

24-Hour Cities and Office Rent Performance, Part 1 of 3

24 hour cities cover - clcik to downlaod report

Using a hypothesized set of 24-hour cities and a complementary set of 9-to-5 cities, as defined by the widely read 1995 survey of Emerging Trends in Real Estate, office rent performance is closely examined. Among the key findings, it is determined that real rents in 24-hour city downtowns commanded a 28.8% premium over their adjacent suburbs, when considering a 21-year timeframe. In sharp contrast, 9-to-5 metros commanded only a 0.5% average real rent premium in the past 16 years.

Downtown vacancy rates versus the respective suburbs are considered for both 24-hour cities and 9-to-5 cities. How well each type of market is able to sustain higher occupancy rates versus their suburbs is also among the key points examined. This sets a solid stage for Part 2 of this 3-part series of papers, when we will examine what effects, if any, the 24-hour and 9-to-5 cities’ economic dynamics have had on investment pricing and returns.

Sustainability Today:
&where do we go from here?

Sustainability today - Click to downlaod report

On a global and national level, sustainable business efforts are on-going. How quickly is progress being made, though, and what can be done to further these efforts? “Sustainability Today” discusses the environmental impact of US buildings, electricity consumption, and US electricity use per capita, in comparison to that of other countries. A case study is also presented as a success story, and property-level opportunities are listed as possible additions to any property’s energy strategy.

"ET" is the New "IT" for Landlords and Tenants

et is new it cover - click to downlaod

The deregulation of the energy industry in 2003 is similar in many ways to the deregulation of the telecommunication industry in the early 1990s. There are also a number of commonalities for built “IT” and “ET” solutions in urban environments. A closer examination of the energy demands of today and tomorrow reveals several key market barriers for “ET” deployment. In particular, adequate incentives for urban decentralized energy solutions are a key shortcoming.

Downtown 2020

Downtown Manhattan can become a vibrant, globally competitive powerhouse and international model of 21st century sustainable development — if public and private investments in infrastructure are made according to six strategic principles, contends a report prepared by a multidisciplinary research team assembled by our Institute. The report, "Downtown 2020," is made particularly timely by the recent erosion of the district’s economy and the prospect of an infusion of federal infrastructure funding for the city.

Undertaken in 2008, the report has been supplemented with a 2009 addendum, “Going Long on NYC: The Case for Strategic Investments in Downtown’s Bedrock Assets.” The addendum updates some data and assessments but affirms the report’s underlying optimism that, over the long term, positive fundamental forces shaping the New York region and its core will persist and prevail.

View/download PDFs for the Downtown 2020 report and its addendum, Going Long on NYC.

The Last Mile:
Developing Efficient Freight Operations for Manhattan’s Buildings

Over the past 30 years, freight deliveries to the city have increased by about 300 percent. In contrast, no changes occurred in loading bay requirements since 1972 and none exist for freight elevators. Industry sector studies from 1996 to 2008 identified inaccessible curb space and truck zones, along with insufficient loading bays and freight elevators in “the last mile” as major obstacles to freight efficiency.

Collaboration by freight and commercial real estate professionals is essential to upgrade urban goods movement and traffic flow.

How Low Can We Go?

The economic volatility of 2008 reversed the boom enjoyed by the Manhattan office market in the immediately preceding years. This paper places the current downturn in the context of prior cycles: 1984 — 1992; 1993 — 2001; and 2002-present.

In each cycle, Wall Street has been a key demand force with its employment count fluctuating between 150,000 and 200,000 at troughs and peaks. As a fundamental driver for New York, though, Wall Street’s multiplier effect in total office jobs magnifies the impact of its swings. The authors trace this history and conclude that approximately 37,500 jobs will be shed in the securities sector by 2010, part of an aggregate loss of about 75,000 Manhattan office jobs.

Over 17 million square feet of additional vacancy will hit the market in this decline, pushing the vacancy rate as high as 12.3%. Recovery is projected for 2011, with a modest uptick in financial jobs stimulating positive space absorption again.


Affordable Housing in New York City

Published in 2005 for the Office of the Public Advocate of the City of New York and the City Council.


The CUNY Urban Consortium

Sponsored by the Institute, the CUNY Urban Consortium brought together the resources of various CUNY schools and departments that focused on urban issues. For the first time, members of these departments in a wide range of disciplines met at regular intervals to discuss planning and design issues that affect the future of the city and of the metropolitan region. They then created symposia and seminars to explore these issues in public forums.


New York City Brownfields

Published in 2005 for the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, Office of Environmental Coordination.

The Fulcrum: The Crossroads at the Heart of Queens

Published in 2005 for the Queens Chamber of Commerce in response to the New York City Economic Development Corporation.

Planning Study for the Allen AME Housing Development Corporation

The development or the redevelopment of urban communities is a focal point for new opportunities. For many years, the positive aspects of urban communities have been overlooked or ignored even though these communities had many attractive components such as infrastructure, population density, public transportation, economic capacity and an educated workforce. Southeast Queens has these attributes as well as catalytic components for progress such as committed community development organizations, churches and governmental entities that are active in marshalling resources to enhance the opportunities to maximize the neighborhood’s potential.