Office rental at the Bank Note building could give the Bronx a much-needed shot in the arm.

NEW YORK CITY- Taconic Investment Partners has inked deals with two non-profit groups to lease space in the BankNote building, which sits in the Hunts Point section of the Bronx.

New York City’s Human Resources Administration signed a 20-year lease for approximately 200,000 square feet at the building, Taconic announced Friday, while Urban Health Plan, a Bronx-based, not-for-profit healthcare provider, signed a 10-year lease for 20,000 square feet for its executive offices. The deals bring the class-A landmark building to just under 95% leased, with approximately 30,000 square feet of space remaining, according to the announcement. Robert Giglio, executive vice president of Cushman & Wakefield, and Ellen Israel, senior director of JRT Realty Group represented HRA in the transaction.

Taconic will continue to market the remaining space but, in the meantime, the firm envisions HRA’s presence being a big boost to the neighborhood, says Peter Febo, senior vice president.

“HRA will bring in over 600 employees and over 2,000 visitors every day,” he says. “That will fill up everything from parking lots to businesses in the area.” 

The new tenants signed on following a major upgrade to the BankNote, once the location of American Bank Note Co. printing presses that printed currency, postage stamps, war bonds and stock certificates for nearly 76 years.

Under the direction of architectural firm Beyer Blinder Belle, which specializes in restoring historically landmarked buildings, Taconic implemented a $20-million capital improvement plan designed to restore the historic character of the property, marked by prominent arched windows, saw-tooth skylights, concrete floors, exposed brick walls and light-flooded interiors. 

Renovations included the installation of more than 300 new low-e, double-hung windows; the re-pointing of the building’s facade and new pedestrian walkways; building new lobbies; installing a cooling tower; upgrading corridors; building new bathrooms; and modernizing elevators in the Lafayette and Barretto buildings, according to the announcement.

In addition to the initial $20-million capital improvement plan, Taconic will invest an additional $20 million to build out spaces for HRA and Urban Health Plan, made possible by an upsizing of the existing loan from iStar Financial, the first mortgage lender for the project.

Additional financing for the HRA tenant build out was provided by an innovative credit-based $17.9 million tenant improvement loan to an affiliate of Taconic Investment Partners. The loan was provided by Lance Capital LLC and and CGA Capital Corp.

The TI loan, which amortizes over seven years at 4.25%, is unsecured but backed by a portion of the city’s rent cash flow.  Bonds tied to that facility were privately placed with institutional investors—those bonds are unrated, but implicitly carry the double-A rating of New York City.

Jason Martin, managing director of MCCG Real Estate represented Urban Health Plan in its transaction; Paul Wolf, principal of Denham Wolf Real Estate Services, represented the owner, an affiliate of Taconic Investment Partners.

The BankNote has large horizontal layouts, which will significantly increase operational efficiency for the HRA, which is consolidating offices from three separate locations, says Febo.

“The buildings they’re in now are very vertical and require elevators. Now, the building’s horizontal floorplates will allow them to be on three floors versus 10, and we’ve built large queing areas to allow people to wait indoors vs. outside, which is what they were doing before,” he notes.

“We spent a lot of time making sure the waiting areas and queing areas were right,” he continues. “Efficiency was important.”