• Kosher steakhouse Reserve Cut purchases FiDi home for $18 million
    The owner of one of Manhattan's largest kosher steakhouses has now taken over its longtime home in the Financial District for $18 million, city records show. Albert Allaham opened Reserve Cut at 40 Broad St. in 2013 after emigrating with his family from Damascus, Syria, to Brooklyn more than a decade earlier. Allaham was just 29 when he opened the high-end kosher eatery — a favorite among diners who observe the Jewish dietary laws of kashrut. Allaham, together with Manhattan-based Midtown Equities, acquired the three retail condo units in what's known as the Setai building from Zev Marmurstein under the limited liability company AL 40 Broad Realty, according to a deed that appeared in the city register this week. Allaham purchased the property with a $11.7 million loan from Webster Bank, records show, and used what is likely his birth name, Albir, not Albert.  It's unclear how much Allaham had been paying in rent for his 200-seat restaurant near the New York Stock Exchange or if his purchase of roughly 38,000 square feet of space means an expansion is on the horizon. Attempts to speak with him by press time were unsuccessful, and Midtown Equities did not return a request for comment. Reserve Cut, which boasts four private rooms for hosting events, is known not only for its Wagyu beef and filet mignon but also for its sushi and kosher wines. And it's not Allaham's only business. He also owns a high-end kosher butcher shop in Brooklyn called the Prime Cut — carrying on his family's legacy, dating back nearly two centuries, when they ran one of Syria's most respected butcher shops, according to information from the restaurant's website. Allaham spoke with Crain's in 2018 and at the time said he would gross more than $10 million that year.
  • Weekly commuter roundup: July 22-26
    Here are the subway disruptions, road closures and other commuting changes you should be aware of as you get around the city this week. Subways   No D trains between 34 Street-Herald Square in Manhattan and Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center in Brooklyn between Monday, July 22 from 11:30 p.m. through Friday, July 26 at 5 a.m. G trains will not run between Bedford-Nostrand Avenues in Brooklyn and Court Square in Queens through Aug. 11. In the Bronx, no 6 trains between Westchester Square and Pelham Bay Park on Tuesday, July 23 from 9:45 a.m. to 2 p.m. No 4 trains in the Bronx between Kingsbridge Road and Woodlawn on Wednesday, July 24 from 9:45 a.m. to 2 p.m. 5 train service between East 180th Street in the Bronx and Bowling Green in Manhattan ends early beginning at 8:15 p.m. on Friday, July 26. Commuter rail   Westbound Long Island Rail Road trains skip Elmont-UBS Arena, Queens Village and Hollis stations, Monday through Thursday from 10:00 a.m. through 3:00 p.m. through Aug. 1. LIRR trains bypass Locust Manor, Laurelton and Rosedale in both directions, beginning Friday at 11 p.m. to Monday at 4 a.m. through Aug. 5. On the PATH train, customers who use the World Trade Center station during overnights this week should enter at Fulton Street or Vesey Street through the North Concourse in the 2 World Trade Center transit lobby. Oculus access is limited overnight from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. to allow for enhanced cleaning. All other entrances will be closed. Roads and bridges   Travelers heading to or from John F. Kennedy International Airport by car or taxi can expect a slew of changes this week due to construction at the airport's terminals. Until further notice, from 12 p.m. each afternoon to 2 a.m. the following morning, the for-hire vehicle pickup at Terminal 4 will be relocated to the Remote Ride App & Car Services Lot. Passengers seeking for-hire vehicle service from Terminal 4 should take a free shuttle bus departing from the Terminal 4 arrivals level every couple of minutes to the Remote Ride App & Car Services Lot. To avoid construction-related congestion at JFK Airport's terminals, motorists are encouraged to use the free drop-off and pickup lot at the Lefferts Boulevard AirTrain JFK station. JFK Expressway is closed for customers traveling to and from Terminal 1. Access to other terminals from the JFK Expressway is not impacted. Drivers will be detoured with signage on local roads and should allow 10-15 minutes of additional travel time. Until further notice, the for-hire vehicle pick-up location at Terminal 5 will be relocated to Terminal 7’s Orange Garage roof. The taxi stand at Terminal 5 has been relocated to the ground level of the terminal’s Yellow Parking Garage. Parking on level 1 of Terminal 5's Yellow Parking Lot is now dedicated for individuals with special needs or disabilities. Recent transportation coverage:
  • Mass transit mostly unscathed by tech outage
    The region’s airports and air carriers may be scrambling to bounce back from a far-reaching tech outage Friday, but the city’s subway and commuter rail agencies faced limited impacts because their operations rely mostly on closed networks. MTA officials said Friday that there are no service impacts to the city’s subway, buses and commuter rail as a result of outages brought on by a software update from cybersecurity company CrowdStrike, which has impacted systems that utilize Microsoft Windows devices worldwide. Amtrak and New Jersey Transit similarly said their riders experienced no service disruptions. The smooth service is a win for the transit agencies, which have grappled with some rough commutes this week caused by aging infrastructure or the extreme heat. “The airline system may be in disarray but New York City’s public transit system is going at full speed,” said Janno Lieber during a Friday press briefing. “The trains are coming, they’re coming on regular schedules and you can count on it.” MTA train operations, which have a variety of computer systems, weren’t affected because they operate on isolated networks, MTA spokeswoman Kayla Shults told Crain’s. Commuters are experiencing minor, non-service-related challenges, including an outage of subway countdown clocks on the system’s lettered lines and with real-time bus trip data. Lieber said those systems will be back online “pretty promptly.” Amtrak riders were also spared delays; however, credit card payments for tickets through an Amtrak vendor briefly went down at 4:41 a.m. but were restored by 8:19 a.m., according to Amtrak spokesman Jason Abrams. In the meantime, cash and mobile payments through Apple Pay, Google Wallet and other services were accepted. NJ Transit has been beset by equipment meltdowns this week due to the heat wave, but CrowdStrike didn’t add to the headaches, said NJ Transit spokesman John Chartier. Some ticket machines in stations are down, but the agency said it’s cutting riders a break who aren’t able to purchase a ticket due to the malfunctioning tech. “Customers who needed to buy a ticket at a machine that wasn’t working, they will not be denied travel,” said Chartier.
  • Deals of the Day: July 19
    Leases Kew Gardens tea shop opens second location in Financial District Address: 77 Greenwich St., ManhattanLandlord: Trinity Place HoldingsTenant: AteazLease size: 1,100 square feetAsset type: Mixed useBrokers: Winick Realty Group’s Kenneth Hochhauser represented the landlord. Winick Realty Group’s Yoel Gorjian represented the tenant. Sales Health fund for New York’s largest union buys stake in headquarters Address: 125 Barclay St., ManhattanSeller: AFSCME, DC 37Buyer: AFSCME, DC 37, Benefits Fund TrustSale price: $23.4 millionAsset type: Office Kosher steak house Reserve Cut purchases space in its FiDi home Address: 40 Broad St., ManhattanSeller: Zev MarmursteinBuyer: Albir AllahhamSale price: $18 millionAsset type: Retail Korean investor snaps up Renaissance hotel storefront Address: 2 Times Sq., ManhattanSeller: Sherwood EquitiesBuyer: John ChoiSale price: $99.3 millionAsset type: Retail
  • On Politics: Don’t write off Democrats after RNC
    Has Donald Trump locked up the 2024 election? The polls, the dis a rray of the Democrats, and even an assassination attempt on Trump all seem to point in that direction. A bullet hit Trump’s ear and he survived, pumping his fist and yelling “fight” as his secret service protection led him away. The photograph is already iconic, on the cover of Time magazine, and when I covered the Republican National Convention this week, the delegates there spoke of Trump as an indomitable lion or someone blessed by God — many of the speakers said divine intervention had saved him. The Democrats, it seems, don’t even know if Joe Biden will be their nominee. Will he step aside? After weeks of holding out, it appears he may be entertaining leaving the ticket after his disastrous June debate performance. The convention is coming up at the end of August and the decision will have to be made then. If Biden doesn’t run, it will probably be Kamala Harris to replace him, with her own running mate. Many pundits — and virtually all Republicans — are increasingly certain of a Trump victory. That was the mood at the RNC in Milwaukee. No one could entertain the possibility that Trump wasn’t going to be the 47th president of the United States. It all reminded me a bit of 2016, when I covered the Democratic convention in Philadelphia. At the time, everyone — really, everyone — believed Hillary Clinton was going to be the next president. If you suggested otherwise, you were considered insane. The feeling, among delegates, was one of absolute triumph. The election was a formality. Trump was getting demolished. We all know what happened next. Clinton faltered in a few key swing states and Trump, despite losing the popular vote, captured the Electoral College. There is an outside shot, this fall, that Trump could become the first Republican in 20 years to actually win the popular vote. If he does, it will be an Electoral College rout and an absolute downballot disaster for Democrats. But even though Biden’s actual campaign has been mediocre and forgettable, absent any coherent rationale beyond being the only thing standing between Trump and the White House, it’s worth pointing out their original gambit wasn’t entirely off-base. Biden is too old — he should have stepped aside over a year ago — but Trump is alienating and unpopular. Right now, there’s a bit of gauziness hanging over the Trump years because most of them came before the pandemic. The focus has been on Biden, inflation, and the border. Inflation and immigration as top issues won’t vanish if Biden decides to forego another term. What will happen, though, is a narrowing of the race in the fall. Most Americans simply aren’t paying much attention right now. Politics will start to matter in September and October. Trump is too incendiary to run away with the race, to build up an impregnable lead in the polls. The election, inevitably, is going to be settled in a few key states, coming down to vote margins that are very small. This was the story of 2016 and 2020. More twists and turns will come. Voters will begin to think very hard on whether they want another four years of Trump. Enough may decide, in the end, they do. The Democrats could have a reckoning. No one, though, should declare the race over—not yet, anyway. Ross Barkan is a journalist and author in New York City.
  • Hakeem Jeffries dances around Biden questions as pressure ramps up
    House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries avoided saying whether President Joe Biden should remain in the race during a closely watched interview on Friday, amid reports that the president is growing more open to stepping aside for another candidate. In a radio interview on WNYC’s Brian Lehrer show, the Brooklyn congressman reaffirmed his support for the current “Biden-Harris ticket,” which he called “a ticket that we can win on.” New York Democrats have been at the center of the weekslong debate over whether Biden can lead the ticket to victory in November. Gov. Kathy Hochul, a vocal Biden supporter, on Thursday acknowledged that the ticket could “change.” But Jeffries demurred multiple times when Lehrer asked whether Biden represented Democrats’ best shot at defeating Donald Trump. The decision to leave the race “is one that can be made by only a single individual, the President of the United States of America, who has had an incredible 50-plus-year career in public service,” Jeffries said. Jeffries also declined to confirm a Washington Post report that he and Senate majority Leader Chuck Schumer had personally warned Biden that his decision to stay in the race might prevent Democrats from reclaiming control of Congress. Jeffries said Friday that he had “communicated the full breadth” of views from Democratic House members. A famously deliberative politician who stands to become Speaker if Democrats win the House, Jeffries also serves as a de facto Democratic leader in New York, which has seven battleground House seats and has even shown signs of growing support for Trump in the presidential race, according to some polls. Jeffries was much keener to turn the conversation to Democrats’ legislative accomplishments under Biden, pointing to the $1 trillion infrastructure law, the 2022 gun safety law and new caps on insulin prices. He also warned of the Project 2025 plan circulated by some Trump allies — but renounced by Trump himself — which Jeffries said would “essentially end America in many ways as we know it” by cutting public benefits and restricting reproductive healthcare. “We, of course, have to continue to articulate a compelling vision for the future designed to make life better for everyday Americans,” Jeffries said. “And we need to articulate that in the boldest manner possible.” Meanwhile, Biden sought to dampen speculation on Friday afternoon by releasing a statement implying he will stay in the race. That statement, framed as a response to Trump's Thursday speech at the Republican National Convention, came after multiple outlets reported that Biden was more receptive to the possibility of stepping aside.
  • Hospitals delay procedures, resort to paper records amid tech outage
    City hospitals are delaying patient procedures and resorting to pen and paper to keep track of patient information amid a tech outage that shut down computer systems across the globe. The outage was caused by a glitch related to the Austin, Texas-based cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike, which sent out a faulty software update on Thursday that caused Microsoft Windows-based systems to crash. The shutdown led to widespread flight delays, disruptions to emergency response systems and chaos at medical facilities. Many hospitals rely on Windows to access patients’ medical records and keep track of workflow within individual units. They are now scrambling to communicate procedure delays and keep track of cancellations. Local hospitals including Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Maimonides Health say they have delayed some care because of the shutdown. Memorial Sloan Kettering paused all procedures that involve anesthesia on Friday, according to a statement posted on its website. The hospital is in the midst of alerting patients about delays in care while it gets systems back up and running. Maimonides Health has also delayed all nonessential procedures, said Sam Miller, a hospital spokesman. “We remain open and patients continue to receive safe, high-quality care,” Miller said, urging patients to call ahead of their appointments. The outage has led to confusion among patients, many of whom showed up to medical facilities on Friday only to be told they could not receive scheduled care. Councilmember Shahana Hanif wrote on X that she commuted 45 minutes to a doctors’ appointment and was told that all appointments were cancelled because of the outage. Mount Sinai has also delayed patient care, and has resorted in some cases to using paper and handwritten orders while systems are down. Mount Sinai said systems affected by the outage have been identified and isolated, and the technology team is working to restore its computer systems as of mid-day Friday, according to Lucia Lee, a spokeswoman for the health system. “Patient safety remains our top priority and we will provide updates as the situation evolves,” Lee said. City officials maintained that local facilities remain functional, despite some delays. New York-Presbyterian said that its facilities were not directly affected by the outage, and public hospital system New York City Health + Hospitals said its hospitals are functioning. “Not only are all of our hospitals functional, but all of the hospitals across New York City are functional,” Dr. Mitchell Katz, president and CEO of the public hospital system, said at a briefing Friday. All hospitals are required to develop and practice emergency response plans in case of a computer outage, and are prepared for such circumstances, Katz said. “We deal with life and death,” he said, adding that hospitals are equipped to make instant decisions about ordering a test or prescribing medication. Most hospitals use electronic medical record provider Epic to keep track of patient data, which was not affected by the outage, Katz said. He encouraged patients to keep their appointments, but recognized that they might experience delays because provider workstations have to be rebooted. Nick Garber contributed to this report.
  • Theater District staple West Bank Cafe to close next month
    It's the final curtain call. The storied West Bank Cafe and its downstairs theater, which for decades was home to both budding and seasoned playwrights and comedians, will take their final bow next month, the owner says. The 100-seat cafe, whose name is a play on words for its location near the bank of the Hudson River, opened in 1978 on the ground floor of Manhattan Plaza. The 90-seat Laurie Beechman Theater, meanwhile, which opened in 1983 and is named after the late-Broadway performer, has produced thousands of shows and launched hundreds of artists in the more than four decades it's been in operation. Owner Steve Olsen says that unfortunately rising costs have taken a toll — especially in the aftermath of the pandemic, which greatly shifted the industry. "Our business never recovered, not even close to what we were doing before Covid. And everything went up, insurance doubled," said Olsen, who with his wife, Janet Momjian, has been the proprietor of the Off-Broadway staple. "It's impossible to keep the place going." In December 2020 fans and customers launched a fundraiser to help the struggling restaurant and theater, between Ninth and 10th avenues, stay alive. They raised enough cash to help them survive for a few more years, but they're just no longer sustainable, said Olsen, 70, who was 24 when West Bank opened. Olsen declined to say how much he's paid in rent over the years but said it's one of the costs that's gone up. "Broadway is reported on all the time, but what's not really discussed is the creative arts, like Off-Broadway. Everybody is suffering," he said. Dozens of performers have graced Laurie Beechman's stage over the decades, including Lewis Black, Tennessee Williams and Joan Rivers — whose last show was the night before she died in 2014, Olsen said. "The first night she came in after her show, she declared it was the room she had been searching for her whole life. She became a friend and performer with us," Olsen said of Rivers. And the theater was the birthplace of three of Aaron Sorkin one-act plays as well as hosted rehearsals for the late Stephen Sondheim's "Sunday in the Park With George." Olsen told Crain's Friday that it's a sad day for the industry, but he hopes to keep the place alive by writing a memoir. He's not sure what will become of the property, which is owned by The Related Cos. Olsen says he's aiming for an Aug. 24 closing date, and longtime customers are angling to put on a tribute show, but nothing has been established yet.   "The future is uncertain," he said. The Related Cos. did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
  • New York’s most valuable real estate is 86 stories aboveground
    The Empire State Building observatory, one of the world’s most popular tourist attractions, is worth $1.7 billion, or more than $20,000 per square foot, according to an eye-popping new analyst report.  That may sound high, and indeed it is. Hedge fund mogul  Ken Griffin paid a comparatively miserly $10,300 per square foot when he forked over $238 million five years ago for his Billionaires Row penthouse triplex. The unidentified buyer of an $80 million duplex at 220 Central Park South last year must have been an absolute pauper,  shelling out just $10,100 per square foot. Brooklyn Nets owner Joseph Tsai snagged his $188 million apartment, also in 220 Central Park South, for $19,200 a square foot two years ago. But the landmark tower that defines New York’s skyline rises above all the would-be challengers.  Its observatory on the 86th and 102nd floors is worth $20,435 per square foot, based on an estimate published Thursday by BMO Capital Markets analyst John Kim. Kim recently visited the palace that Trip Advisor users have voted as the No. 1  attraction in the world and, after taking into account tickets that start at $44 for adults and $38 for children, estimated the observatory is worth $1.7 billion all by itself.  He arrived at that figure by forecasting the observatory would generate $118 million in net operating income next year and multiplying that figure by 15. Obviously there’s some guesswork here. Why $118 million? Why a multiple of 15?  But the figures don’t seem terribly off-base, either, considering KKR in 2021 ponied up $500 million to acquire a majority stake in the Edge, Hudson Yards’ observatory. Officials at the Empire State Building’s owner told Kim that a third party recently valued their observatory at $1.6 billion.  Divide Kim’s $1.7 billion estimate by the Empire State’s observatory’s 83,000 square feet and you get a per-square foot valuation that’s certifiably sky-high.
  • Op-ed: A new push to encourage elevators in city walkups
    Thousands of elderly New Yorkers are living a silent struggle. Living in three-to-six-story apartment buildings without elevators, they grapple daily with the mental, emotional and physical pain of leaving their homes, navigating staircases and stairwells to perform the most basic errands for themselves or their family members. The older they get, the more difficult going back and forth becomes — from doctor visits to grocery shopping to walks in the park. This can easily lead to severe isolation and depression. From tenements to brownstones, it is a struggle not often discussed, but with living and housing costs continuing to skyrocket, the strain is very real for this vulnerable population. Many of these New Yorkers either cannot afford to move or live in rent-regulated homes, relying on disability benefits, retirement pensions and Social Security. To some degree, they are trapped – physically and financially. Even if they or their landlords want to make these apartments accessible by adding elevators, the current zoning and building codes will not allow it. It’s time for that to change. One solution is to modify current regulations to allow elevators to be installed on the outside of certain buildings, providing a critical lifeline to residents who are elderly or disabled. Since such an installation would occur on the building's exterior, the work would not displace the tenants. Typical 19th century tenement houses in New York City are built with light wells and small courtyards next to the public corridor and/or stairwell, and many of these structures have abandoned dumbwaiters that provide coal from the cellar to the upper floors. These areas, alone or in combination, would be ideal locations for small elevator shafts. Other buildings in New York City are set back far from the property line with large front yards that could easily accommodate exterior elevators. And many such buildings have rear yards that can be accessed from a common corridor. Some buildings have stairwells with wide enough turns to accommodate a small elevator, a practice in place since the early 20th century in cities across northern Europe. However, none of these are permitted under current zoning and building codes in the Big Apple. The buildings in question were constructed prior to requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and therefore, the owners are not required to install elevators unless a substantial building-wide alteration is undertaken. Allowing such existing non-compliances with disability regulations is designed to avoid punishing property owners with new costs that accompany new regulations. However, our government leaders should be encouraging action to preserve affordability and enable accessibility instead of just avoiding it. The installation of exterior elevators will certainly increase the value of properties over time, and tax incentives can be offered to further encourage the practice and offset the necessary costs. In upper Manhattan where I live, several of my elderly neighbors have been forced to leave their affordable apartments when the lack of an elevator became too much of a burden. As a result, they relocated miles away, leaving a loving community with which they had forged close friendships and who had helped them cope with their disabilities. Often these residents are forced into government-subsidized nursing homes, needlessly straining social service agencies and draining their budgets, when an elevator would have allowed for much less costly at-home care. Adding elevators in walkup buildings allow the elderly to age in place with grace and dignity in their own communities, but it also can help anyone who has been permanently or temporarily disabled due to an accident or illness, as well as parents with young children. Installing elevators in walkups would retain affordable units in small buildings that may not have been subject to rent stabilization or control but are affordable because of market trends that favor newer, larger buildings and keep rents low. In this post-pandemic era, we all can understand the impact of forced isolation and the positive power of human interaction. Asking for help is never easy, and for the elderly and disabled, asking for help to navigate your own home can be even more difficult – coupled with the guilt, shame and frustration. Changes in regulations would ease their hidden pain by enabling property owners to make improvements without requiring them. Creating a working group of city regulators, industry leaders, community advocates and elected officials would be a good first step toward facilitating such a change for these often-overlooked New Yorkers. Their struggle may be silent, but that doesn’t mean we should ignore it. Margery Perlmutter is a land use lawyer, an architect and the founder of consultancy firm, Urban Factors, as well as a former chair and Commissioner of the NYC Board of Standards and Appeals and a former commissioner on the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission.

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