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One Willoughby Square architect is tenant of Brooklyn tower

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Architects routinely help developers promote new buildings they designed. But in one notable case, the architects loved their work so much that they decided to move into the striking new tower themselves.

FXCollaborative, previously known as FXFowle, is the anchor tenant at JEMB Realty’s nearly-finished One Willoughby Square in Downtown Brooklyn. The 34-story, 500,000 square-foot structure next to the DeKalb Avenue subway hub is the borough’s tallest new office building and scheduled to open later this year.

“We’re not just the tallest in the borough but the best,” JEMB principal Jacob Jerome cheerfully boasted.

“We looked around the area and we saw we were surrounded by luxury residential units. We decided we’d go full-office catering to the same people, this large-scale talent pool, living nearby,” he said.”

FXCollaborative will have three full floors totaling 40,000 square feet. The firm’s senior partner Dan Kaplan said his team was “increasingly frustrated” with the loft space they’d occupied in Chelsea for almost 25 years. “It was a good space but we felt hemmed in,” Kaplan said.

His firm was working on the Willoughby project for JEMB when he had a brainstorm. “I told my team, the whole point [of their search for a new home] is to have a platform for creative work. So let’s put us in the mind of a tenant,” he recalls saying.

“It started as a joke. Somebody even laughed.” But it became a “natural discussion after that.”

Because mass transit access was important to FXCollaborative, “We had talked about downtown Manhattan. I said what about Downtown Brooklyn — with everything nearby including nine subway lines within a four-block radius,” Kaplan said.

FXCollaborative is the only office lease so far. The tower will also have a city public school at its base.

Murals now being painted on lower levels will overlook the new Willoughby Square park that’s under construction by the city’s Economic Development Corp.

The tower’s main façade embraces an Art Deco-industrial aesthetic with blue-glazed brick set into concrete panels to help create the impression of a “modern loft building,” Kaplan said.

The tower’s practical appeal includes lots of outdoor space, a “no-contact” lobby much in demand in the pandemic era and column-free office space. Elevators and mechanical functions are contained inside a narrower section of the building that easily fit on the T-shaped site.

Four “super floors” boast 18-foot ceiling heights and outdoor loges like “porches in the sky,” Kaplan said.

Jerome said he’s talking to a wide array of prospective tenants but declined to discuss asking rents.

One Willoughby Square makes its debut during a stable but pandemic-challenged Brooklyn office market. According to CBRE’s fourth-quarter survey, Brooklyn’s total office inventory is 48 million square feet, of which about one-third are downtown. The average asking rent was stable at $46.99 per square foot, CBRE reported.


 FiDi residents keep asking us: Are the Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas, which we first reported on in May 2017, ever going to open?

When city movie theaters reopen after a year in the dark on March 5, the 10-screen Alamo luxury complex at Fosun’s 28 Liberty St. won’t immediately join them. An Alamo spokesman said, “Nothing new to share on Liberty, still intend to open on date TBD.”

The Alamo announcement in 2017 was touted as a boost for newly vibrant FiDi, where tens of thousands of residents have moved in since 9/11, but neighbors are still waiting.
China-based Fosun bought the former One Chase Manhattan Plaza for $750 million in 2013 and spent $160 million more to modernize the 1960 office tower and to make it more public-friendly with stores, Danny Meyer’s “view” restaurant Manhatta on the 60th floor and a planned large food hall.

But construction issues moved the Alamo launch beyond 2018. In December 2019, project construction manager March Associates posted photos online that showed nearly completed theaters, escalators, bathrooms and kitchen.

The opening was next pushed back again to 2020 — supposedly because of issues related to the tower’s landmark status. COVID-19 threw in the final monkey wrench when Gov. Cuomo closed Big Apple cinemas and halted most construction last March. A source said most of the work’s done and Alamo is working through a “punch list” of items before opening.


The latest lease at Rudin Management’s 80 Pine St. is a two-family affair.

Lactalis American Group, the US subsidiary of French-based dairy giant Lactalis Group, is taking 14,752 square feet on the entire 35th floor. The asking rent was $85 per square foot.

Rudin Management senior VP Michael Rudin said, “As a multigenerational family company yourselves, we’re proud to add Lactalis, a third-generation family run business, to our tenant roster.” The tenant is moving from 77 Water St.

The tower, developed by the Rudins in 1960, has a new lobby, new storefronts and other capital improvements designed by Fogarty Finger Architecture. The 1.2 million square-foot tower is now mostly full but will have 800,000 square feet available when AIG moves out later this year.

One World Trade Center has a new tenant: Medical Knowledge Group, which will move from 750 Third Ave.

The eight-year deal is for 12,063 square feet on the 84th floor. MKG addresses business needs of biopharmaceutical companies through analytics-driven research.

The asking rent was $85 per square foot. One World Trade is owned by the Port Authority and the Durst Organization.

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Glasses retailer Warby Parker eyeing IPO as soon as this year

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Hipster glasses retailer Warby Parker is eyeing an initial public offering.

The 11-year-old business, which started out as an e-tailer before rolling out some 130 stores across the US, is considering an IPO as early as this year, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday.

The New York-based company has amassed a huge customer following by offering less expensive prescription glasses. Warby Parker raised $120 million in its most recent funding round giving it a $3 billion valuation, according to the report.

“We’ve always explored various financing opportunities in both the debt and equity markets,” the company said in a statement. “To date, we have successfully and deliberately raised money within the private market on favorable terms and have plenty of cash on our balance sheet. We’ll continue to make strategic decisions in line with our commitment to sustainable growth.”

Founded by college buddies Dave Gilboa and Neil Blumenthal, who met at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, Warby Parker has attracted some large investors including the mutual fund company, T. Rowe Price.

It turned it first profit in 2018, Gilboa told The New York Times at the time.

Warby Parker co-founder Neil Blumenthal
Warby Parker co-founder Neil Blumenthal
Brian Ach/Getty Images

Customers can get prescriptions through their apps on their smartphones and use cameras to pick out frames. The company also has an optical lab in Sloatsburg, NY where it produces lenses.

While Warby Parker is not the least expensive option, it beats Costco in a recent comparison with Costco charging as little a $126 for a pair of prescription glasses compared with Warby Parker’s least expensive pair at $95.

“As consumer walk into a LensCrafters or Sunglass Hut, they see 50 different brands of glasses but don’t realize that all those brands are owned by the same company that owns the store that they’re standing in, that probably owns the vision insurance plan they’r using to pay for those glasses,” Gilboa said in a recent CNBC interview.

“And so, it’s no surprise that a lot of those glasses are marked up 10 to 20 times what they cost to manufacture,” he said.

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Dogecoin hits new high boosted by DogeDay hashtags

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Dogecoin prices hit an all-time high on Tuesday, with a market capitalization above $50 billion, after social media fans used hashtags to fuel a rally in the meme-based cryptocurrency.

An 8,000 percent price surge this year has seen Dogecoin, which was launched as a satirical critique of 2013′s cryptocurrency frenzy, overtake more widely-used cryptocurrencies like Tether to become the fifth-largest coin.

While Dogecoin, whose logo features a Shiba Inu dog at the center of the meme, a represents only a fraction of bitcoin’s $1 trillion value, it can be traded on crypto exchanges and more popular mainstream trading apps.

“The Doge rally represents an interesting convergence,” said Diana Biggs, CEO of crypto start-up Valour, after Dogecoin’s price soared by more than five-fold in the last week to a record 42 cents, according to CoinMarketCap.

“A meme coin created as a joke for early crypto adopters whose community found that kind of thing to be fun, with now a new generation of retail investors for whom memes are a native language,” Biggs added.

Dogecoin fans used the hashtags #DogeDay and #DogeDay420 to post memes, messages and videos on Twitter, Reddit and TikTok, referring to the informal April 20 holiday to celebrate cannabis which is marked by smoke-ins and street parties.

“GIMME THAT DOGECOIN LAMBO!!! #DogeDay” one tweeted, referring to the Lamborghini car popular in crypto culture.

Dogecoin’s rise has come amid a surge in online trading of stocks and crypto by retail investors, stuck at home with extra cash because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It has not coincided with a growth in usage of the coin for payments or in commerce.

The same trend has spurred a boom in usage of online trading apps like Robinhood, and also fueled the social-media driven rally in GameStop stock that pitted retail investors against hedge funds earlier this year.

“It’s an extension of the same phenomenon that has led Tesla stock to be valued well beyond fundamentals and more recently to the GME (GameStop) short squeeze,” said Ajit Tripathi, head of institutional business at decentralised finance startup Aave.

Like other cryptocurrencies, Dogecoin’s price is heavily influenced by social media users including Tesla chief Elon Musk, whose tweets on the cryptocurrency in February sent its price soaring over 60 percent.

“If this goes as planned and everybody including Mr. Musk go ahead and just pour money into Doge on April 20th all at once Doge will reach prices that originally were not even conceptual,” a TikTok user said in a video promoting the coin.



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Amazon is opening a beauty salon in London

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Amazon is opening a hair salon in London — its latest odd lurch into new businesses as the pandemic continues to fuel the e-commerce giant’s torrid growth.

The Amazon Salon, unveiled in a Tuesday blog post, will occupy a two-story, 1,500-square-foot space in Spitalfields, a trendy neighborhood in East London that is also home to Amazon’s UK headquarters, which houses about 5,000 employees.

Indeed, the new salon, which will be open seven days a week, initially will only cater to Amazon workers. Members of the public will be able to make bookings in “the coming weeks” by calling, emailing or visiting the salon, the company says.

“This will be an experiential venue where we showcase new products and technology,” Amazon said in a blog post on Tuesday, adding that there are no plans to open other salons.

That will include making Amazon’s Fire tablets available at each station, allowing customers to use augmented reality technology to see what they look like as a platinum blonde, brunette or with highlights, the company said.

The salon is located at Amazon’s UK headquarters, which houses about 5,000 employees.
The salon is located at Amazon’s UK headquarters, which houses about 5,000 employees.
Amazon

The salon will also test new “point-and-learn” technology, where customers can point at a product they are interested in on a display shelf and the relevant information, including brand videos and educational content, will appear on a display screen.

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