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Church offering Rockefeller land to the right buyer.

The Collegiate Church Corporation announced today that it was offering for sale an 80 percent ownership position, in the fee interest of the land beneath 600 Fifth Avenue, located at 48th Street and Fifth Avenue, at the southeast corner of Rockefeller Center.

Studley's Woody Heller, executive managing director, is acting on behalf of Collegiate in the transaction. "Collegiate is taking this step to adjust asset allocation in the Church's endowment portfolio," said Casey R. Kemper, the Corporation's executive vice president and chief operating officer.

"Because the land has been in the Church's portfolio for almost 150 years, however, we will maintain a minority position in the lease." According to Mr. Heller, "Rarely ever are fee interests available in Manhattan, much less in Rockefeller Center.

"Given the strength of the market, the values that dictate future ground rent resets have created an enormous disparity between the current ground rent and the level to which the rent will be reset at the next adjustment.

"This enables the interest being offered to represent the best of both worlds: rock solid security and enormous future upside, a formula highly sought after in today's marketplace."

Heller added, "As a result, this offering will attract strong and diverse interest, from both traditional real estate investors and non-traditional investors, seeking alternatives to the low-yielding fixed income options otherwise available."

Collegiate, which acquired the land from Columbia College (later, Columbia University) in 1857, built St. Nicholas Reformed Church on the site. St. Nicholas fell into a state of disrepair and Collegiate, at that time unable to maintain the building, closed and demolished the church in the late 1940s. Subsequently, Collegiate leased out the land to facilitate its commercial development.

The 28-story limestone office building at 600 Fifth Avenue, contains in excess of 400,000 square feet, and was opened in 1951 by its original owner, the Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co. Inclusive of renewal options, the ground lease with the building's current owner, RCPI Landmark Properties LLC, runs through 2084.

The Collegiate Church traces its history to the Dutch settlement of Nieuw Amsterdam, where the first congregation met in 1628 in a room in the settlement's mill. Collegiate was granted a royal charter in 1696, which permitted the Church to engage in real estate transactions to support its activities.
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Title Annotation:Collegiate Church Corporation
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Geographic Code:1U2NY
Date:Sep 21, 2005
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