Vornado Realty Trust

Midtown, Policy

666 Fifth Avenue, Kushner Companies, Vornado

Google Street View of 666 Fifth Avenue

Kushner Companies has agreed to purchase the remaining 49.5 percent stake in 666 Fifth Avenue from Vornado Realty Trust for $120 million, nearly wrapping up the drawn-out saga of the problem-plagued condo tower. According to the Wall Street Journal, Vornado said the contract with Kushner is expected to close in the third quarter of this year and is conditional and “there can be no assurance that this transaction will be completed.”

Kushner Cos. first purchased the 41-story building in 2007 for a record $1.8 billion, but the economic recession created enormous financial strain for the company. To help restructure the building’s major debt, they brought in Vornado, which purchased the stake in the building for $80 million and the assumption of half the property’s $1.2 billion mortgage in 2011.

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Architecture, Midtown West

Bjarke Ingels' Penn Plaza design

Rendering via BIG

Instead of razing and redeveloping its 2 Penn Plaza office tower, Vornado Realty Trust said on Tuesday it will simply renovate the building. As Commercial Observer reported, the company’s CEO, Steven Roth, said earlier plans of demolishing the 31-story tower and grabbing 5 million square feet of development rights from Madison Square Garden to build a bigger tower, would not be feasible. Moving forward with option B, Vornado will likely stick with designs from Bjarke Ingels Group. More than two years ago, BIG revealed renderings that showed a wave-like canopy of glass panels that would envelope 2 Penn Plaza above the retail entrances on the ground floor.

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Midtown, Policy

666 Fifth Avenue, Kushner Companies, Vornado

Google Street View of 666 Fifth Avenue

Update 4/9/18: Vornado announced on Friday that it reached a “handshake” deal to sell its stake at 666 Fifth Avenue back to the Kushner Cos, according to the New York Times. It remains unclear if the Kushners have found a new partner. Steven Roth, chairman of Vornado, in the filing, said the payment would cover the company’s investment: “The existing loan will be repaid including payment to us of the portion of the debt we hold.”

Kushner Cos. said this week it is in talks to buy the remaining 49.5 percent stake in 666 Fifth Avenue from Vornado Realty Trust, furthering the drama at the 41-story Midtown Manhattan office building, according to the Wall Street Journal. The tower has remained one of Kushner Cos. most financially troubled projects. In addition to its debt and high rates of vacancy, the building has been mired in controversy, mostly due to Jared Kushner’s role as a senior adviser and son-in-law to President Donald Trump. While Jared divested in the property to avoid conflicts of interest, investors have been reluctant from entering a deal with Kushner Cos.

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Major Developments, Midtown West

Penn-Farley Complex, Moynihan Station, Farley Post Office, Moynihan Train Hall

Rendering courtesy of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill via Gov. Cuomo’s office

Recognizing life sciences as New York City’s next largest growth sector, Vornado Realty Trust and Related Companies hope to attract tech companies to the redevelopment of the James A. Farley Post Office. The joint venture will develop 850,000 square feet of commercial space, with roughly 730,000 square feet set aside for office space. The developers, which have a 99-year lease, are seeking biotechnology and pharmaceutical businesses as tenants, according to the Wall Street Journal. The team has hired a Boston-based broker with experience in the life-sciences real-estate market and has also created a brochure with possible designs for laboratory and office space. The brochure is titled “Moynihan Research Center at Farley.”

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Midtown West

Penn-Farley Complex, Moynihan Station, Farley Post Office, Moynihan Train Hall

Earlier this month, New York City officially pitched four neighborhoods to house Amazon’s HQ2: Long Island City, the Brooklyn Tech Triangle, Lower Manhattan and Midtown West. During its third-quarter earnings call Tuesday, Vornado Realty Trust said the Moynihan Train Hall remains at the forefront of the city’s Midtown West bid, citing the project’s proposed 730,000 square feet of office space and 120,000 square feet of retail as meeting the retailer’s key requirements (h/t Commercial Observer). Vornado, along with Related Companies, Skanska USA, and architecture firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, is converting the former James A. Farley Post Office into the Moynihan Train Hall, an effort led by Governor Andrew Cuomo to create a world-class transit center.

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Midtown, Policy

666 Fifth Avenue, Kushner Companies, Jared Kushner

A previous rendering of 666 Fifth Avenue, courtesy of Kushner Companies/Zaha Hadid Architects

Instead of the 41-story Midtown tower becoming an 80-story office building with hotel rooms and luxury housing, 666 Fifth Avenue will now get a much more simple upgrade. According to Bloomberg, Vornado Realty Trust, the project’s partner alongside Kushner Companies, told brokers the property will remain an office building, with“mundane” renovations planned. As one of the most financially troubled developments for Kushner Cos., the Fifth Ave project has been losing money since its purchase was first coordinated by Jared Kushner, currently a senior advisor to President Donald Trump, in 2007.

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Major Developments, Midtown East, Policy, real estate trends

666 Fifth Avenue, Kushner Companies, Jared Kushner

A rendering of 666 Fifth Avenue, courtesy of Kushner Companies/Zaha Hadid Architects

In 2007, Kushner Companies purchased a 41-story tower in Midtown for $1.8 billion, which was the most expensive real estate deal ever in the U.S. at the time. The transaction of 666 Fifth Avenue, coordinated by Jared Kushner, now a senior advisor to President Donald Trump, was ill-timed, making the purchase just before the economic recession. As the Washington Post reported, the Fifth Avenue project is one of the most financially troubled for Kushner Cos., with one-fourth of office space empty, and its lease revenue not covering monthly interest payments. While Kushner has divested his stake in the property to avoid conflicts of interest, the property’s value has dropped and foreign entities have withdrawn financial support. Currently, Kushner’s dealings are under investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller, as part of the broader investigation into Russian collusion with the Trump campaign.

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Architecture, Midtown West

A rendering of the Pelli Clarke Pelli design for 15 Penn Plaza, courtesy of Vornado

Plans to replace the century-old Hotel Pennsylvania with a 1,216-foot office building have surfaced again. Financial firms Morgan Stanley and Deutsche Bank are reportedly contemplating a move to Vornado Realty Trust’s planned supertall skyscraper, 15 Penn Plaza, according to the Post. Vornado first won the city’s approval in 2007 to build a supertall at the location of Hotel Pennsylvania on Seventh Avenue and nearly signed a deal with Merrill Lynch to be a tenant until the financial crisis dissolved the agreement. This design, by Pelli Clarke Pelli, is being presented to the firms along with new options says a source.

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Midtown East, real estate trends

view of metlife building from the south on park avenue

Park Avenue has for decades been the office district of choice for many of the city’s high-profile–and high-rent–corporations. But a recent Crain’s article points to impending departures–such as the decision of investment firm Black Rock to decamp for new space in Hudson Yards or the World Trade Center, raising the question of whether the avenue’s biggest office zone, from East 45th to East 59th streets, is falling out of favor with big-ticket business tenants.

The city’s office market is, without a doubt, changing. Industries like tech are growing and the financial industry is consolidating and in some cases downsizing its office space. The neighborhood, which charges the city’s highest average rents, has been slow to catch up with the needs of new office tenants.

People moving out, people moving in

Midtown West, Policy, Transportation, Urban Design

New Madison Square Garden, Woods Bagot

Rendering for a proposed new MSG by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates

Moving MSG to make room for a bigger, better Penn Station train hub would be really expensive and probably not a good idea, according to a new report by transit think tank Rudin Center for Transportation Policy. Commercial Observer reports that the just-released study outlines the concern that moving the arena would come with a price tag of over $5 billion, take, like, forever, and would generally “become an urban planner’s worst nightmare.” The study refers to the proposed overhaul of Pennsylvania Station and the idea of extending it to the post office off Eighth Avenue as well as suggestions by urban planners for relocating MSG.

So what’s going to cost so much?

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