While every major building manager in town champed at the bitfor a chance to manage the Grand Central tower, Insignia's prestigewent on the line when the agency for its home base went up forgrabs. Shorenstein Realty Services last month opted to give up thecontracts for both the MetLife and Fred F. French Buildings, thelatter a 425,000-sf MetLife-owned property at 551 Fifth Ave.Shorenstein had managed the properties for 10 years before decidingto get out of the business of handling third-party properties tofocus on its owned real estate.

"We've been coveting this building for 10 years, that's all,"quips Insignia chairman and CEO Stephen B. Siegel. "There wereseven in the original bid list. We put in an enormous amount ofman-hours on this, working out leasing, management, security, therenovation. It's been a long, tough and somewhat nerve-wrackingprocess because it was very important to us. We knew thecompetition was tough. There are some highly qualified firms outthere."

Insignia takes over both properties Jan 1. Office leasing willbe handled by Keith Caggiano, Howard Fiddle, Lewis Miller, PeterTurchin and Jon Zuckerman; Paul Allegretti, Gregg Popkin and WayneTaub will manage the property; and David Green and Allison Winterswill handle the retail leasing end.

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