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Small tenants get grand address at 30 Wall St.

A Wall Street address carries a certain cachet for some industries, but not every tenant thinks they can afford to be on Wall Street and not every tenant is big enough to make its presence felt in one of the larger buildings.

A few smaller but prestigious tenants are making their mark by renting space at the boutique office property located at 30 Wall, diagonally across the street from the New York Stock Exchange. The opposing three-story J.P. Morgan Building allows 30 Wall to be a bright, sunlight spot.

"The building is a bright light on a street that has had difficult leasing," said Joseph Harkins, managing director of Cushman & Wakefield, who also represents 100 Wall Street. "Wall Street has certainly suffered as tenants have moved to newer buildings or uptown, but there is still a cachet to Wall Street."

30 Wall first served as the quarters for the Bank of the United States and its original facade is in the garden court of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In 1915, renovation work began on the then three-story limestone structure, which was redesigned by York & Sawyer to become the U. S. Assay Office.

Iron window screens, containing figures modeled after Michaelangelo's Medici tombs, and a Palladian-inspired palazzo of rusticated limestone, still front the current property.

The building was repaired after an explosion -- set off using a horse drawn carriage -- rocked Wall Street on Sept. 16, 1920. While more than $1 billion in gold sat inside the Assay Office, the Morgan property at 23 Wall took the brunt of the noontime blast in which 30 people were killed and hundreds more wounded. Foreign terrorists were suspected but the exact target was never identified.

Seamen's Bank for Savings acquired 30 Wall in 1953 and added a tower that rises to 12-stories. The building currently comprises 118,000 square feet.

In 1986, Tozai Real Estate Co. Ltd., a Japanese firm, purchased the historic property for $31 million and owns it debt free. Like many Japanese, they bought the building during the mid-80's run-up in prices, but because there is no debt, the building has been able to remain stable with attractive rents.

Tozai retained Yarmouth Group as investment advisors and asset manager of the building. Cushman & Wakefield has been brought in as leasing agent.

With full floors of 9,000 square feet, and a number of pre-built carpeted units of smaller increments, several compact but international companies have settled in to do business.

Most recently, Disc Inc., a subsidiary of Nynex, moved from another Downtown office building and joined such tenants as British Telecom, Clark Estates -- which owns the National Baseball Hall of Fame -- and the Chase Manhattan Bank.

After Seaman's went under, the vacancy rate jumped to 30 percent until Chase moved into two floors. The addition of Disc brought the occupancy up to 91 percent. "That speaks well for a small, quaint boutique building," said Harkins. "We wouldn't have gotten them unless we had other quality tenants."

Another recent addition is James Grant, publisher of Grant's Interest Rate Observer who decided on the former U.S. Assay Office building after a painstaking search. Grant, a financial guru, had occupied the old 40th floor conference room in the Woolworth Building until his office needs outgrew that space.

"He was looking for that elegance," observed Hawkins. "This space has a lot of grandeur and charm from the hardwood veneer elevator cabs and mahogany wood." I.M. Pei was retained by Grant to design his new 30 Wall quarters while Tozai brought in the Phillips Janson Group to remodel all the common corridors.

Despite the falloff in values, the Tozai commitment is long term, noted Hawkins. "They have instituted a moderate but consistent capital improvement program," he said.

Harkins said asking rentals are $27 a foot and the owner is willing to discuss modifications to that. "We are negotiable and listening," he added.

The building touts an extensive five--story underground vault and storage of about 12,000 square feet. Legend has it that anyone tunneling to strike at the former assay office's gold would hit a watery moat surrounding the property. So far, neither Jesse James, Indiana Jones nor Geraldo Rivera have emerged with the truth.

The basement storage complex can be had for an asking price of $12 per square and Harkins said about 9,000 square foot is currently available. Most is rented to existing tenants but the owners will consider offers from companies located outside the property.

The chambers are elevator accessible and ventilated by air conditioning and would be perfect for maintaining archival records, data that needs to be accessed frequently, or an emergency generator.

At year end, the 11th and 12th floors will become available when its current occupants, who are "psychologically committed" to being near Grand Central Station, move uptown.

"Each tenant is meaningful," noted Harkins. "With each floor representing almost 10 percent of the building, it makes each tenant a major tenant. "
COPYRIGHT 1993 Hagedorn Publication
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:small businesses lease boutique office property
Author:Weiss, Lois
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Aug 4, 1993
Words:826
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