Last month, the Chetrit Group began converting the 37-story, 855,000-square-foot Sony Tower – the office building at 550 Madison Avenue, between East 55th and 56th streets, in Midtown – into 113 condominiums, a 170-key hotel, and 25,451 square feet of retail space. Now, Olayan America (the U.S. branch of Saudi Arabia-based Olayan Group), with minority investor Chelsfield, is in contract to acquire the tower for more than $1.3 billion, according to The Real Deal, officially stopping the project in its tracks. The new owners will not follow through with the conversion and will lease the building as office space. Chetrit is selling the building, most likely because of the cooling ultra-luxury residential market, for at least $200 million more than what they payed for it in 2013. The soon-to-be new owners have secured $300 million in mezzanine debt and a $600 million mortgage for the acquisition. The sale is expected to close in May.
General Growth Properties and Thor Equities have filed to expand, by five stories, the 20-story, 115,000-square-foot multi-use commercial building at 685 Fifth Avenue, located on the corner of East 54th Street, in Midtown. The property’s commercial square footage – 109,543 square feet – will remain the same, because a portion of the space on the lower levels will be utilized to build the vertical expansion. As a result, the structure will see an increase in height from 227 feet to 292 feet. Coach has already secured a lease to take 23,400 square feet of retail space on the first few floors for its new flagship store, The Real Deal reports. Midtown South-based Marin Architects is the architect of record. In June of 2014, GGP and Thor acquired the building for $460 million, and it was reported last November that Michael Shvo is in contract to acquire the building’s existing 90,000 square feet of office space for north of $100 million. It doesn’t appear the future office space on floors 21 through 25 was part of the deal with Shvo.
Jack Resnick & Sons is planning to renovate and reposition the nine-story, 481,184-square-foot office building at 315 Hudson Street, in Hudson Square. FXFOWLE Architects will be designing the renovation, which will include a 10,000-square-foot landscaped rooftop terrace, a redesigned lobby, upgraded mechanical equipment and elevators, and new windows, according to Real Estate Weekly. New amenities include bike storage space with locker rooms. The property boasts 52,000-square-foot floor plates, and the top five floors (or 225,000 square feet of contiguous space) is slated to be ready for occupancy in early 2019. Other portions of the LEED-certified building, which contains ground-floor retail, are available for immediate occupancy.
Vasco Ventures has filed applications for a three-story, 7,552-square-foot office building at 188 Butler Street, in Gowanus, located seven blocks from the Union Street stop on the R train. The entire structure, which will include outdoor rooftop terraces, will be used for offices. There will be 4,973 square feet of space dedicated to commercial operations, and the structure will stand 58 feet above street level, which means that ceiling heights could easily top 15 feet per floor. Nataliya Donskoy’s Brooklyn-based ND Architecture & Design is the architect of record. Demolition permits were filed in January for the 25-foot-wide site’s vacant three-story townhouse.
RFR Holding, LIVWRK, and Kushner Companies are preparing to enter into contract to purchase the 11-story, 733,000-square-foot office complex at 25-30 Columbia Heights, in Brooklyn Heights, in addition to the vacant full-block, 135,000-square-foot development site at 85 Jay Street, in DUMBO, from the Jehovah’s Witnesses. The team of developers are paying $700 million for the properties, according to the New York Post. 25-30 Columbia Heights, which is commonly called the “Watchtower,” is the organization’s current headquarters. It could possibly be turned into a commercial hub, similar to how the same developers converted the former Jehovah’s Witnesses properties at 81 Prospect Street into offices back in 2014. As for 85 Jay Street, the site has been long approved for roughly 1.1 million square feet of development. That’s as many as 700 to 1,000 residential units, which could boost the neighborhood’s population by a third, Brownstoner reported a few months ago.