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Former warehouse positioned as New Media and Arts Center.

With a big assist from Grubb & Ellis New York, the former vacant Saks Fifth Avenue warehouse at 450 West 15th Street is becoming one of New York's hottest commercial properties.

Boasting a new name - The New Media & Arts Center - all its available office space is filled or committed to a roster of high-profile fashion, design and media tenants.

"What remains to be leased is the groundfloor retail space, about 12,000 square feet, which is being marketed to restaurants and art galleries," said Alan Weisman, senior managing director at Grubb & Ellis New York. Weisman, along with Stuart, Siegel, managing director at Grubb & Ellis, marketed the property on behalf of the owner.

"The ability to convert this old warehouse into an unusual commercial building with high-profile tenants is an expression of the economic vitality of the city and the strength of the area's real estate market," said Weisman.

The building, which overlooks 10th Avenue, was originally constructed by the National Biscuit Company in 1906 as the cookie-maker's headquarters location. Saks Fifth Avenue bought the property in 1969 and added an adjoining structure along the building's western side, almost doubling its size to approximately 254,000 square feet.

Two principals of Moishe's Mini-Storage, Moishe Mana and Erez Schtemlicht, purchased the eight-story warehouse from the famed department store in early 1996 with the intention of using the building for document and mini-storage. As they slowly filled the building with mini-storage tenants, they decided to create a special events center for the fashion industry on the eighth floor. Almost at the same time, the new owners discovered the exceptional brick walls and large windows of the original exterior of the 1906 structure.

Enter Messrs. Weisman and Siegel, who convinced the owners that the building had potential for a much higher use. "Based on market dynamics, we saw a real opportunity here," said Weisman. "We began marketing the building 10 months ago, when asking rents were in the $10 to $12 per square foot range. Our last deal closed at $25 per square foot. In fact, interest in the site was so heated that several bidding wars erupted during the months the space was on the market."

The lower floors are stilled used for mini-storage, but some fifth-floor space will soon be converted to offices and will be available in about six months.

In less than 10 months, Weisman and Siegel secured such chic tenants as: F.A.O. Schwartz Visual, which designs store displays; Hoberman Designs, the designer and manufacturer of movable sculptured toys; Chandler Chicco Agency, a pharmaceutical public relations concern; Guccione Publishing, soon to launch its new magazine Gear,' Aline Souliers, the modeling agency that represents Claudia Schiffer; and KCD, a leading public relations firm for the fashion industry, boasting such clients as Calvin Klein and Versace.

The building's special events floor, known as "Milk Studios," has been a huge success, hosting photo shoots and fashion shows for such famous retailers as Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren.

The lobby of the building is currently under construction, and the entrance on 15th Street as well as the elevators will be refurbished as part of the last phase of the redevelopment. The top floors have been fitted with large picture windows where there was previously a windowless brick facade.
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Title Annotation:commercial building in New York, NY
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Apr 29, 1998
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