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Northeast Region Hosts Charles Bendit and François Ortalo-Magné
Northeast Region Hosts Charles Bendit and François Ortalo-Magné
By Cody Langeness, New York City Market Representative

On February 12th, the Northeast region hosted Charles Bendit, Co-Chief Executive Officer of Taconic Partners and François Ortalo-Magné, Albert O. Nicholas Dean of the Wisconsin School of Business. With over 35 WREAA members in attendance, Mr. Bendit discussed his extensive career and gave an overview of the more interesting transactions he’s participated in (both the profitable and the rare unprofitable deals). Mr. Bendit’s first successful acquisition was of 1800 Broadway in New York in the late 1990’s. Part of the underwritten strategy included the innovative idea, at the time, to capitalize on signage in Times Square, while competing bids assumed little or no signage income. Mr. Bendit and his team were able to execute their value-add play, beyond their initial expectations, to receive annual net income of approximately 10% of the acquisition price. Mr. Bendit went on to discuss his acquisition of 111 8th Avenue, a converted factory/storage facility in the Meatpacking neighborhood of New York City. At the time, the building was being utilized for back office space by various firms, but, through his innovative approach of converting the property to an office building, he was eventually able to fully lease the building and sell it to Google for a substantial profit.

In his view, the Google building is a perfect example of two key interrelated trends he’s currently experiencing in the New York City office market. The future of the office market in New York City does not lie with the financial services firms but instead with other, non-financial, industries. He highlighted that financial based firms are currently downsizing their office needs in New York City and some are considering a move to alternatives. This trend parlayed into the next, "A lot of tenants today don’t want to work in their father’s office building like the ones on Park Avenue”, Mr. Bendit explained, "The hip and cool tenants don’t want to be there, they want to be in a different environment a ‘Google Environment”’.

Mr. Ortalo-Magné, Albert O. Nicholas Dean of the Wisconsin School of Business, gave an overview of the current state of both the UW Real Estate program and the Business School. He discussed, among other things, the recent improvement the Business School has seen in the number and quality of MBA applicants relative to other Business Schools as well as the School’s adapting and growing mobile technological environment.
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