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Vivendi's 300,000 s/f does disappearing act.

Having just subleased 9,260 s/f of space at 800 Third Avenue, media firm, Vivendi, has come close to unloading 300K s/f of space it had occupied in seven different buildings in Manhattan. All that remains is 7,000-s/f of space at 800 Third Avenue; a tidbit compared to the mammoth 190K s/f of contiguous space Vivendi set out to sublease in the building three years ago.

Such chunks might have gone wholesale today, but considering the depressed state of the leasing market over the past few years, broker CRESA Partners, who handled the subleasing, was hard pressed at first to get potential tenants to even look at the space. Vivendi, which occupied floors 2-13 at 800 Third Avenue, responded by partitioning its sublease space in the building into much smaller parcels. As the market improved, however, the pace at which the space was absorbed quickened with a higher frequency of larger deals. Concessions also shrank and rents have begun to creep up.

"It was quite difficult at first," said Roundell, who along with Marcus Rayner, a principal, and Ed Wartels, an associate, brokered all of the subleases for Vivendi's space. "But we've been able to improve our deals over the past year."

While Vivendi's space at 800 Third Avenue represented its biggest block, the firm also had sizable chunks at 240 West 35th Street and 11 West 19th Street and smaller pieces at 60 Broad Street, 420 Lexington Avenue, and 6 West 18th Street. Vivendi also had a giant 140K-s/f space at 375 Park Avenue, but that contiguous block became so valuable as the city's fundamentals tightened and the availability of large Midtown spaces shrank, the landlord allowed Vivendi to surrender its lease without penalty.

It took 25 transactions in all, each to a different tenant, to dispose of all of Vivendi's space. Roundell said that most of the transactions went to law firms, but that media and financial firms, as well as non-profits, were also active. The latest sublease, on the fourth floor of 800 Third Avenue, went to Renaissance Technologies Corp., a firm that already occupies space in the building and is using the sublease as an economical opportunity to expand. Vivendi's subleases in the building are good until 2010, but Renaissance has committed past then, meaning it will have to pay direct rents eventually.

Vivendi will continue to occupy just under 50K s/f of space in 800 Third Avenue, now its only offices in the city.
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Author:Geiger, Daniel
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Jun 1, 2005
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