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2019-05-24 — ft.com

Google has agreed to pay $600m to acquire a historic building in Manhattan's Meatpacking District -- a hundred times what it was sold for in 1996 -- in a deal that reflects the tech company's growing footprint in New York City.

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The first time he sold the building, in 1996, the cobbledstoned neighbourhood was a gritty outpost with a reliable supply of transgender prostitutes and illicit drugs. It went for $6m to Moishe Mana, an Israeli immigrant who grew wealthy after founding a local moving company, Moishe's Moving, and his partner, Erez Shternlicht.

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https://www.ft.com/content/e46c1558-7ccf-11e9-81d2-f785092ab560

n 2004 Mr Harmon helped them sell the building to investment firm Angelo Gordon for $55m, and then flipped it four years later to Stellar Management for $161m, who then shifted it -- with his assistance -- to Jamestown, a developer, in 2013 for $284m.

Now comes Google, whose $2.4bn purchase of the nearby Chelsea Market last year reinforced the neighbourhood's status as New York City's technology capital. It also helped to cement Mr Harmon's standing as one of two uber brokers in a real estate-obsessed city.

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For Mr Harmon, a born talker with a touch of showbiz panache, the Milk sale is evidence that there is still juice in the city's real-estate market -- even after a prolonged run whose sheer duration has set many executives on edge, with a sharp retreat of Chinese buyers and a fall in prices for luxury condominiums.

In one sign of the market's fragility, brokers have taken to selling some buildings privately, approaching potential buyers without making a formal listing to avoid the risk of disappointing headlines.

Rising US interest rates would cause some dislocation, Mr Harmon said. But overall, he argued that New York's property market was stronger than many sceptics realised -- particularly for those who understood how to navigate it.

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