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NEW YORK CITY-Cosmetics powerhouse the Estee Lauder Cos. Inc has inked a 15-year lease renewal for 310,000 sf of headquarters space at the General Motors Building, 767 Fifth Ave. Estee Lauder, which occupies several floors in the building and was one of its original tenants, had been searching for new headquarters space for more than three years. The new lease will take effect upon the expiration of the existing lease in April 2005. No financial details regarding the transaction were released, but other properties in the building range from $95 to $115 per sf.

The Insignia team of Gregory Tosko, Ken Meyerson, Scott Gottlieb, and Matthew Wolfson represented Estee Lauder, while CBRE’s Mary Ann Tighe, Craig Reicher and Megan Sheehan acted for the landlord. This one of the last transactions to be announced by the pair as two separate companies. Their merger is expected to be completed within days.

“The Estee Lauder team performed an exhaustive search of alternatives in the market over the course of the past three years,” says Tosko.

“Lease renewals can be tougher,” adds Meyerson. “And with the ownership of the building being in transition, there was an urgency to look outside the building.”

Last month, Donald Trump and Conseco reached an agreement on a long-standing dispute over control and distribution of profits of the GM Building. The parties have mutually agreed to put the property on the market. In 1998, the pair purchased the 50-story property for $878 million, with Conseco making a $211 million equity investment and Trump $11 million.

But, Meyerson says Estee Lauder liked the prestige of the GM Building and the deal was done rather quickly. “There is less unknown. And there are no vestiges of the old lease.”

“This transaction is important for the market now,” says Tighe. “It shows top quality buildings still command top quality prices and says a lot about the staying power of Manhattan.”

Counsel to the Estee Lauder Cos. on the transaction was a Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP team led by J. Philip Rosen along with Alan Lascher and Jeremy Goldman, while the landlord, 767 Fifth Avenue LLC, an indirect subsidiary of Conseco Inc., was represented by Kirkland & Ellis led by Steve Tomlinson along with Jennifer Morgan and Mukang Cho.

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