|Headquarters||New York City, New York, United States|
|Products||Real estate, Hotels, Shopping Centers, Retail, Mixed Use|
|Total assets||$5 billion |
Thor Equities, LLC, is an international real estate development and investment firm and is based in New York City. Thor Equities specializes in acquiring and developing high street investment properties in major retail locations worldwide . Thor’s New York City portfolio of assets includes retail properties on Fifth Avenue, SoHo, the Meatpacking district, and Brooklyn including Coney Island. Thor also has investments on major U.S. shopping streets including San Francisco’s Market Street, South State Street in Chicago, Robertson Boulevard in West Hollywood, and Collins Avenue and Lincoln Road in Miami Beach. Internationally, Thor Equities purchased and restored the historic Burlington Arcade in London and is expanding in France. It is also pursuing emerging market investments and is developing luxury mixed use investments in Mexico. Thor also offers an investment vehicle for institutional investors and foundations seeking to invest in the global retail property market through its Thor Urban Property Funds. Thor Equities is also affiliated with several companies including Thor Urbana which invests in prime retail real estate in Mexico, the retail advisory and tenant representation firm Thor High Street Advisors, and the luxury real estate brokerage firm Town Residential.
- 1 Background
- 2 Ashley Stewart
- 3 Development activities
- 4 Affiliated companies
- 5 Non profit activities and honors
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Thor was founded in 1986 by Joseph J. Sitt. He picked the name Thor for the company name because he was an avid Thor comic book fan and thought it would fit his "concept of being the protector of the cities." His first investment was a property sold at tax auction in the on East Tremont Avenue in the Bronx, a chronically under served retail area, where he built a one-story retail structure with money from "family, friends, roommates, parents of roommates." He proceeded to secure national retailers Rite Aid Pharmacy and Payless Shoes after convincing them of the value of this location.
From Sitt’s early realization of the retail gap that left broad swathes of inner city consumers largely underserved by major retailers, Sitt founded Ashley Stewart (a name inspired by Laura Ashley and Martha Stewart) in 1991 which sold modern and fashionable plus-size clothing to African American women.
Each Ashley Stewart store hired from within the community and the company was recognized by President Clinton for its large contribution to the nation’s innovative Welfare to Work program. Ashley Stewart quickly grew to over 380 stores in more than 100 cities which prompted many national retailers to follow suit and helped change the urban retail landscape. Sitt was also partial owner and managed the Children’s Place kids clothing chain, as well as Marianne Stores, a retail outlet specializing in clothing for Latina women.
As business boomed, Sitt sold his interest in 2000 to concentrate on urban real estate through his company Thor Equities.
Thor Equities is a global full service real estate development and investment company whose capabilities include acquisitions, financial management, development, property management, and leasing. Thor specializes in value-added investments in high street retail, shopping centers, malls, hotels and mixed-use urban projects. Today, Thor’s current portfolio of properties totals over 15,000,000 square feet (1,400,000 m2) and is valued at more than $5 billion.
Thor also created an investment platform to allow institutional investors to harness the growth trends seen in urban property markets worldwide. The Thor Urban Property Funds investors include investment banks, pension funds, top-tier college endowments, and foundations. The funds’ size is in excess of one billion dollars.
In recent years, Thor has expanded its holdings to include properties in Mexico City, London, and Cannes. In a 2012 cover story, The New York Commercial Observer dubbed Joseph Sitt the “International Man of Mystery” for his organization’s growing international focus, scope, and reach.
Notable Global Developments and Acquisitions
Thor acquired London’s iconic Burlington Arcade in 2010 for £104 million. The property, located in London’s highly trafficked West End shopping district, was built in 1819 and is London’s first covered shopping street and a fabled shopping destination.
In 2012 Thor also acquired a major retail property at 65 Boulevard de la Croisette in the heart of Cannes, France. Current tenants there include Bottega Vanetta, Balenciaga, Brioni, Burberry, Yves Saint Laurent, Paule Ka, Jimmy Choo, and Emilio Pucci. Cannes is a well-established international tourist and festival destination for wealthy consumers.
Thor also owns several luxury retail properties in Mexico City on Avenida Presidente Masaryk, which is known as Mexico City’s Fifth Avenue, Calderon, and La Fontaine. Thor has attracted such retailers as Gucci and Salvatore Ferragamo to these properties.
Thor is a major retail property owner on New York’s Fifth Avenue and its properties include the Takashimaya building at 693 5th Avenue, the Scribner building at 597 5th Ave, and three adjacent buildings at 516-520 5th Avenue which will include possible retail, hotel, and residential components. Sitt has been seen as one of the market makers on Fifth Avenue that is pushing retail growth further south of the traditional southern border at 49th Street.
Thor has also made significant investments in the Meatpacking district betting on the area to continue its climb as a premier retail destination in Manhattan driven in part by the High Line and the future arrival of the new Whitney Museum in 2015. Thor’s significant Meatpacking investments include 837 Washington Street with Taconic Investment Partners, 428 West 14th Street, and 446 West 14th Street.
Thor is also heavily active in New York’s SoHo area and owns numerous properties in the district. In 2013, Sitt partnered with several investors to purchase 529 Broadway for $150 million in what is perhaps slated to be the first ground up construction in SoHo in years. Other areas in Manhattan where Thor owns properties include Tribeca, Madison Avenue, Chelsea, the Flatiron, the Upper East Side, and its headquarters near Bryant Park.
Thor owns a large portfolio of Brooklyn properties located in Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill, Boerum Hill, Downtown Brooklyn, Red Hook, Coney Island, and Bay Ridge. Properties of note include a large tract of oceanfront property situated between Ikea and Fairway in Brooklyn’s Red Hook neighborhood, a 200,000 square feet (19,000 m2) BJ’s Wholesale Club on Shore Parkway which began construction late 2012, and several prime retail properties on Atlantic Avenue in the Cobble Hill and Boerum Hill neighborhoods which has seen significant growth in recent years.
Thor also owns a significant portfolio of property in Coney Island. In 2005, Thor bought a parcel of land west of the amusement district in Coney Island for $13 million, and sold it 14 months later for $90 million. Thor then bought more land on Coney Island along Stillwell Avenue as well as some Boardwalk property including Astroland. In 2006, Thor announced plans for a $1.5 billion Las Vegas-style resort to contain a huge glass-enclosed water park, wild rides, many stores and condominiums or time-share hotels in tall towers near the beach with the land it had acquired in Coney Island which required several zoning changes and soon City Hall and Thor became involved lengthy negotiations. The city had a competing vision and attempted to buy Thor’s land, but Thor did not accept the city’s offer. The negotiations continued and Astroland ceased operations September 7, 2008. Interim amusement rides and a flea market opened in the Summer of 2009 and closed later that year.
On November 11, 2009, Sitt reached a deal with New York City to sell a little more than half of his 12.5 acres (51,000 m2) of land in Coney Island for $95.6 million. The deal capped off a lengthy 3 year negotiation with each side maintaining it had the best plan for the Coney's revival.
Another past development of note is Albee Square Mall in downtown Brooklyn. After Thor purchased the mall in 2001, they made various facility improvements in effort to attract new tenants to the long underperforming property. Later in 2005, Thor announced plans to build a 60-story tower in downtown Brooklyn on the parking lot it owned at the Albee Square Mall at Willoughby Street and Flatbush Avenue Extension. The building was to be the tallest tower in Brooklyn. After the city changed the zoning to permit the tower, Thor sold the proposed site for $125 million. Sitt felt the company had improved the area and that it was time to execute for his investors and move on.
Thor bought the historic Palmer House Hilton Hotel in Chicago's Loop area in 2005 for $230 million and proceeded to undertake a $150 million renovation. Thor won numerous awards for this renovation including the Landmarks Real Estate and Building Industries Council Award for its “ongoing commitment to preservation and outstanding renovation,” The Chicago Commercial Real Estate Award for Redevelopment of the Year, The Construction Industry Service Corporation Award for Rehabilitation Project of the Year, and The Friends of Downtown Chicago Award for Best Renovation Project. In October 2012, the company agreed to re-finance Palmer House Hilton in Chicago for $365 million.
Thor owns several other retail properties on South State Street, one of Chicago’s main shopping streets, which are located inside Chicago's loop area where it was reported in 2013 that vacancies were at a 10 year low. The area has seen a 114% population increase since 1999 and the Census bureau reported that the immediate 2 mile area around Chicago’s City Hall (which includes the loop) has seen more retail growth in both absolute and percentage terms than any other American city including New York.
Thor owns the landmarked Phelan Building, a Victorian-style steel-framed structure reminiscent of New York’s Flatiron building, at 760 Market Street in San Francisco. Thor acquired it in 2008 from the Westcore Group. The building is home to the San Francisco office of the Sears Corporation as well as Twitter co-founder Evan William’s startup Obvious Corp. In a press release announcing the lease to Obvious Corp, Joseph Sitt cited the growing trend of Silicon Valley tech companies arriving to the surrounding area to set up shop.
Thor Urbana Capital (Mexico)
Thor Urbana Capital is a joint venture between Thor Equities and Mexican developer GFa Grupo Inmobiliario. The company is based in Mexico City and plans to invest $500 million into redeveloping real estate across Mexico to capitalize on the country’s strong economic growth and real estate fundamentals.The venture’s first project is a full-block high end retail development along Playa del Carmen’s Quinta Avenida (Spanish for Fifth Avenue). Target markets include Metropolitan Mexico City, Guadalajara, Querétaro, Mérida, Puebla, Playa del Carmen, and Toluca.
Thor Retail Advisors
Thor Retail Advisors is an affiliate of Thor Equities that provides tenant representation, brokerage, and advisory services to retailers seeking to expand their businesses in high street areas around the world. They have offices in New York, London, Paris, and Mexico City. Coming from a retail background and citing his experience from being a landlord and developer, Sitt believes his firm has a unique perspective on what retailers seek and how to navigate the real estate landscape for his clients. The company plans to further increase its international presence into non traditional high growth markets that traditional brokerages often overlook like parts of Africa and Latin America where population numbers are predicted to rise substantially in the coming years.
Town Residential is a large Manhattan and Brooklyn luxury residential brokerage firm and Thor affiliated company that was founded in 2010. In January 2013, Crain's reported that it had 400 staffers, its 2012 retail volume was on target for $1 billion, and that it was set to expand to an additional 2 office locations bringing its total sales office locations to 8 in Manhattan. Sitt is an equity partner in Town which is headed by Andrew Heiberger who formerly founded the successful Citi Habitats residential brokerage firm.
Non profit activities and honors
Global Gateway Alliance
Joseph Sitt is the chairman and founder of the not-for-profit Global Gateway Alliance, which was created in 2012 to address the infrastructure challenges that New York metropolitan area airports face. Sitt made an initial $1 million donation to start the group, which seeks to make New York’s airports among the best in the world. The group cites the increasing global competition between the world’s cities to win tourist and business travel and the substantial economic activity and prestige that New York City stands to lose from not maintaining a world class airport system that it once had many years ago. Board members include CEO of the Partnership for New York City Kathy Wylde, President of the Kushner Companies Jared Kushner, Henry Hart Rice Professor of Urban Policy & Planning and New York University Wagner School of Public Service Vice President Mitchell Moss, and Director of Aviation for the New York City Economic Development Corporation David Hopkins.
Additional non profit activities and honors
Joseph Sitt is an active board member of the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, one of the most respected community development organizations in the United States. He was instrumental in helping restore Restoration Plaza, the neighborhood’s Town Square and the BSRC’s main asset, and bringing to the area more retail options including its first family sit down restaurant and supermarket. In 2007, Harvard professor Michael Porter and the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC) honored him for his commitment to fostering healthy competitive business conditions and new opportunities in inner city neighborhoods.
According to Thor’s website, Sitt is also frequent speaker at industry conferences and various universities including Columbia University, New York University, Baruch, and Notre Dame. He serves on the board of the Real Estate Roundtable in Washington D.C., the Department of Real Estate at Baruch College, and is a member of the Partnership for New York City. He is also chairman of KHBA which seeks to improve Kings Highway’s streets for Brooklyn residents and businesses.
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- “The Incredibly Bold, Audaciously Cheesy, Jaw-Droppingly Vegasified, Billion-Dollar Glam-Rock Makeover of Coney Island”, New York Magazine, September 26, 2005
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