NEW YORK CITY—With the benefit of hindsight, a group of industryexecutives recently discussed some of the highlights—and lowlights—of 2014 and they looked ahead to next year during aNAIOP meeting.

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“This has been a challenging year in the acquisitionenvironment,” said Todd Bassen, seniordirector-acquisitions, Invesco. I've pushed backthis year with pricing where it is so we haven't been as activethis year but that's probably going to change.”

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Agreed Rob Schiffer, managing director,SL Green, “Our year was tough too, pricingpractically was impossible. Everything we bought was off market,very transitional, opportunistic buys. Structured finance has beentough for us too. We've manufactured yield by investing in land andother assets that are non traditional for us.”

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Leasing this year was a different story, noted SteveWinter, VP of commercial leasing atRelated. “The commercial leasing market has beenhealthy, particularly in Midtown South where there's a scarcity ofbig blocks. We're going to see more $100-per-square-foot deals thisyear than we have in the last five years.”

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Schiffer is bullish on rents too. “We believe you'll see asignificant rent spike in the next few years at the higher end,which is why we acquired the Gem Tower.

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Of course, location plays a role in performance. SaidBassen, “There certainly needs to be an investment in East Midtown.It has the greatest possibility of suffering from the subsidiesDowntown and those being provided to Hudson yards. We're hopefulthat the task force put together by the administration to studythis will result in rezoning that'll lead to investment.”

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And a transportation shift that lies ahead could give EastMidtown a boost, he noted. “We haven't seen yet the effect of theLong Island Railroad coming into Grand Central Terminal that couldbe game changing. Will executives from Long Island coming to GrandCentral now rethink their office needs and move to GrandCentral?”

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Its forward thinking along those lines that has executivesprimed for 2015.

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“We will see many billion dollar transactions this year,”predicted Steve Stern, global head of real estateat Morgan Stanley. “Sovereign wealth funds andforeign investors have become more sophisticated and are coming infor long-term holds.”

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“It's shaping up to be an exciting year,” added Schiffer. “We'reexpecting a 10% or so spike in office rents and a tightening ofconcession packages.”

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The outlook on both the condominium and retail fronts is rosytoo, noted Winter. “We haven't really launched condos at the TimeWarner Center but at Hudson Yards there's a lot of pent up demand.And there's a huge pipeline of retail deals, our team is working tosign a lot of retail tenants in the wake of Neiman Marcusannouncing it was coming to Manhattan. We think the first quartershould be very positive.”

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Rayna Katz

Rayna Katz is a seasoned business journalist whose extensive experience includes coverage of the lodging sector, travel and the culinary space. She was most recently content director for a business-to-business publisher, overseeing four publications. While at Meeting News, a travel trade publication, she received a Best Reporting award for a story on meeting cancellations in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina.