NEW YORK CITY-As of the beginning of this month, published reports were pointing to Boston Properties as the last bidder left standing in Goldman Sachs’ pursuit of $2.5 billion for Rockefeller Center. While reports indicated Boston Properties’ bid came in under Goldman’s goal, they were rumored to have outbid the other top contenders for the landmark property. Now, insiders and industry experts are indicating Vornado Realty has pulled ahead in the race and looks like a strong frontrunner.

Jonathan Litt, senior real estate analyst and director of real estate research for Salomon Smith Barney, renewed the flurry of speculation about the bidding process during his presentation yesterday at the New York Chapter of the Real Estate Lenders Association breakfast. Litt suggested during an interactive question and answer period that Boston Properties was no longer hotly pursuing the property and Vornado Realty has become the likely frontrunner.

Following Litt’s comments, spoke with an inside source who confirms that Boston Properties is no longer in the running. “With the shift in lending rates, what we’re seeing is that different players with more depth of resources [equity versus debt structures] are making their moves,” he told “Increasingly, this is going to become a market where equity overshadows debt. Of course, the cost of that equity is higher. So, in order to gain something, these players have to sacrifice more.”

None of those considered the top bidders, Equity Office Properties Trust, Vornado Realty Trust, Boston Properties Inc. and Fisher Brothers, would comment on the record, nor would Goldman Sachs.

Goldman Sachs is the majority owner of the property, sharing ownership with Tishman Speyer Properties, David Rockefeller, the Agnelli family, the Niarchos family and the Crown family. Tishman serves as managing and leasing agent, as well as the operating partner, but Goldman is overseeing the bidding process. The portion of Rockefeller Center up for sale is the GE Building, housing NBC; Radio City Music Hall and the famous skating rink.

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