Monday, April 2, 2007

Trading Floor Envy at NY I-Banks

A version of this story, which was featured prominently in this morning's WSJ, gave way to emails upon emails from colleagues here and friends at other firms -- even those not mentioned in the article -- reminding me and everyone else it was sent to that the sender still works at a prominent i-bank.

Forget trading floor envy, as the Journal put it; this was best characterized as logo-on-the-polo-shirt envy, or at best, trading floor speculation envy.

These plans fall apart faster than they materialize. Remember in 2003, when Goldman was building a magnificent high rise for their new corporate HQ, the tallest building in the state, with all the bells and whistles you would expect from such a modern architectural and business services marvel -- in New Jersey.

Four years later and they are still leasing that tower up. Meanwhile Goldman is building their new digs in Battery Park City.

From a real estate perpective, if the hype surrounding all of these banks looking for huge amounts of contiguous space is true, it confirms the assumption that Manhattan occupancy rates and rental rates aren't coming down anytime soon, as these hungry banks search for high-profile space, aren't shy about shelling out the money for it, and continue to expand organically and via mergers and acquisitions. As cap rates continue to drop (somehow) to nearly half of the current 10-Year US Treasury yield, significant upside is still the horse that's drawing the carriage.

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