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799 Broadway, architectural rendering 799 Broadway, architectural rendering/ Image credit: Binyan Studios

NEW YORK CITY—Columbia Property Trust and Normandy Real Estate Partners have formed a joint venture to develop 799 Broadway. Columbia will own a 50% interest in the $300 million ground-up project. The construction is scheduled to be completed in the second half of 2020. Cushman & Wakefield’s Adam Spies and Doug Harmon represented owner, Ares, in the sale of their 50% stake to Columbia Property Trust. Columbia’s interest was purchased at $142.5 million gross value, according to industry sources.

799 Broadway is located at the corner of 11th St. and Broadway, where Union Square and Greenwich Village converge.

Designed by Perkins+Will, the 12-story, loft-style building will comprise 182,000 square feet of boutique office space. The new development will have floor plates ranging from 3,600 to 22,000 square feet. It will have floor-to-ceiling glass, private terraces, and 15-foot high ceilings. The developers say that the highly desirable location and state-of-the-art design will attract progressive and creative companies.

“We are seeking selective development opportunities in our target markets to provide value and growth to our high quality, well-leased portfolio,” says Nelson Mills, Columbia’s CEO. “Normandy brings deep development expertise and success in Manhattan and elsewhere.” He also notes Columbia’s strong track record in repositioning and leasing properties.

Jeffrey Gronning, a founder and partner of Normandy Real Estate Partners, says with high-end amenities and features, the unique building will appeal to tenants seeking a creative and collaborative environment. He adds that the building “should benefit from the limited supply of newly developed properties in this highly desirable neighborhood.”

However, some local residents say restrictions on out-of-scale developments is what keeps the neighborhood highly desirable. They lament the planned demolition of the St. Denis Hotel.

James Renwick, Jr., the architect who designed St. Patrick’s Cathedral, created the hotel, which opened in 1853. The plain, pale pink exteriors do not reveal the ornate, decorative insides. Jeremiah Moss’s article in The New York Review of Books about the St. Denis, titled “The Death and Life of a Great American Building,” shows some of the interior’s grandeur.

799 Broadway/ Wikimedia Commons 799 Broadway, St. Denis Hotel building/ Wikimedia Commons

Moss also describes a few of the building’s historic moments. This includes Alexander Graham Bell’s demonstrating the telephone to New Yorkers, Sarah Bernhardt’s writing letters, and Ulysses S. Grant’s penning his memoirs with the assistance of Mark Twain. The hotel was later converted to offices but was never landmarked.

Andrew Berman, the executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, opposes the office tower’s replacing the St. Denis Hotel. He says it’s the latest example of Silicon Alley and “Midtown South” moving into Greenwich Village with the recent approval of the Tech Hub rezoning on 14th Street.

“A large glass office tower does not belong here, which is why we pushed for and continue to demand real zoning and landmark protections for this unique neighborhood, to protect its scale, history, and predominantly residential character,” say Berman. “Responsibility for this kind of totally inappropriate development lies squarely with the mayor and the city council, for approving a plan which turns this neighborhood into the new center of the tech industry in New York City.”

Columbia notes that 799 Broadway will complement its growing portfolio of differentiated assets in Midtown South. The properties’ selling points include smaller floor plates, distinctive architecture, and high-end, modern finishes and amenities. Columbia’s additional Manhattan properties include 218 W. 18th St., 249 W. 17th St., 114 Fifth Ave., 229 W. 43rd St., 315 Park Ave. South, and 149 Madison Ave.

Betsy Kim

Betsy Kim is the bureau chief, East Coast, and New York City reporter for Real Estate Forum and GlobeSt.com. As a lawyer and journalist, Betsy has worked as the director of editorial and content for LexisNexis Lawyers.com, a TV/multi-media journalist for NBC and CBS affiliated TV stations in the Midwest, and an associate producer at Court TV.

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