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'Fort Knox' fetches $92m.

With most buyers in wait-and-see mode, a private investment group with ties to a real estate management and consultant firm that specializes in large floor plate space took a classic pre-war commercial building off the east side market, with an approximately $92 million buy.

The Parkoff Organization sold the building to an investment group led by David Berley, chairman of real estate management firm Walter & Samuels, Inc. Walters & Samuels will handle both the management and leasing of the 250,000 s/f property located at 80-88 West End Avenue, which has approximately 12,630 s/f of vacant space.

"It's got 35,000 s/f plates, so it's a super-wide industrial type building," said Peter Weiss, executive managing director at Walter & Samuels.

According to Weiss, with ongoing construction at Lincoln Center diminishing office space in the neighborhood, along with the firm's experience with large loft buildings, the acquisition was an obvious decision for the investment group.

The site was formerly home to the Sherman Tank factory. With 15-foot ceilings and its sturdy industrial uses, Weiss likened the six-story building to Fort Knox. The building, which also includes a 13,000 s/f penthouse, occupies a full block; it faces the park and is just a stone's throw from Lincoln Center. It also offers 200 feet of frontage along West End Ave., and 125 feet of frontage on West 63rd and 64th streets.

"We look at this as a buy and hold," Weiss said, "The area's only going to get better."

Meridian provided financing for the acquisition and no brokers were involved in the transaction. Existing tenants include the Transit Workers Union, the Metropolitan Opera and a large furniture company. Rents at 80-88 West End Ave. typically go for the mid $50s psf range. Weiss, who's firm has completed close to 40 residential, co-op, condo and loft office conversions in New York, said the investment group does have cancellation rights and that the space is ideal for television studios.

But there are no major renovations--or a residential conversion--planned for the building. "We've converted these types of loft buildings before and they're a pain to do," he added, "We're happy with what we have."
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Author:Turcotte, Jason
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:May 7, 2008
Words:362
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