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SL Green Realty offloads two properties, buys into three.

SL Green continues to reshuffle its midtown portfolio as the REIT rolls out its strategy of recycling capital into bigger money earners.

As REW exclusively reported on February 15, SL Green has entered into an agreement to sell 286 Madison Avenue and 290 Madison Avenue to Kenneth Aschendorf and Berndt Perl, of APF Properties, for a total of $63 million, or approximately $420 per square foot.

Richard Baxter and Ron Cohen of Cushman & Wakefield acted as exclusive agents for SL Green, which expects to make a healthy $30 million profit on the sale, expected to close by the second quarter.

And, in a privately negotiated joint venture with Jeff Sutton, the REIT has purchased two retail properties at 25-27 West 34th Street and 29 West 34th Street and it has contracted to make an investment in 609 Fifth Avenue, an office and retail property in which Sutton has and will maintain an ownership interest.

286 Madison Avenue is a 22-story, 112,000 s/f tower facing on 40th Street which is 99.8% occupied. 290 Mad is a six-story building with approximately 37,000 rsf and 100% leased. Andrew Mathias, chief investment officer for SL Green, said the sale was timed to take advantage of the continued strength of property pricing in the Grand Central submarket.

"We continue to look for opportunities to realize gains on our non-core investments and recycle capital into high-quality properties that we believe will deliver superior growth," added Mathias.

The retail transaction are calculated to unlock value in the adjacent sites near the Rockefeller Center.

The investment in 609 Fifth Avenue values the property at $182 million. The building occupies the corner of 49th Street and Fifth Avenue, one of Midtown Manhattan's premier commercial locations.

It is the site of the spectacularly successful American Girl Store that opened in 2003 and that currently produces over 50% of the property's income. The store's lease runs through March 2018. Overall, the property is currently 98.5% occupied. The office tenants include DZ Bank, Shelby

Collum Davis and Reebok International.

The off-market deal capitalizes on SL Green's structured-finance investment in the property, which led to this opportunity. Andrew Mathias, chief investment officer for SL Green, stated, "Our ability to make this investment was directly linked to the structured finance investment we made in 2003.

"At the time, we believed particularly in Jeff Sutton's vision for the retail space. And our confidence paid off--the store has become one of New York's top shopping destinations."

The 34th Street buildings--totaling a combined 51,000 s/f--were acquired for a total cost for $30 million.

The partners intend to make capital improvements and reposition the two properties, which are adjacent to 21 West 34th Street, a building that SL Green and Sutton bought in July 2005.

The transactions reflect a further expansion of SL Green's retail real estate investment program designed to acquire undervalued retail opportunities on standalone sites or as part of commercial projects. It also represents one of several initiatives to add incremental value to the company's core Manhattan office property investment portfolio.

In December 2005, SL Green and Sutton acquired a 90 percent interest in 1604 Broadway, a retail property located on a prime corner in Times Square. The partners also acquired the leasehold interest in 379 West Broadway, a classic office/retail property in the Cast Iron Historic District. In June 2005, the partners acquired adjoining buildings at 1551 and 1555 Broadway, along with the retail building at 21 West 34th Street and a mixed-use property at 141 Fifth Avenue. All have provided repositioning opportunities, utilizing Green's financial resources and redevelopment expertise Sutton's retail experience.

SL Green chief executive officer, Marc Holliday, commented, "These latest acquisitions demonstrate the combined ability of SL Green and Jeff Sutton to locate and acquire sets of properties in the best retail locations.

"The growth of retail rents in Manhattan has outpaced even the midtown office rents that continue to escalate."
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Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Apr 26, 2006
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