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NEW YORK CITY-Less than two years ago, Equity Office bought the office building at 717 Fifth Ave. with 100,000 sf of unoccupied space.

“What we saw was an opportunity,” says Michael Berman, vice president of leasing for Equity Office’s New York region. Before Equity Office took ownership, Berman says, the building “had been marketed but not aggressively. It was not positioned as any particular type of building.” The company believed the building, located near The Plaza, would benefit from the small to medium sized boutique firms that occupy many of the surrounding buildings and desired class A facilities.

Equity Office first built small units that varied in size from 2,000 sf to 8,000 sf. “What that allowed us to do was to capture that segment of the market that was willing tp pay a premium for that location and standards office,” Berman says.

Ten months ago the company began marketing the space to the targeted small boutique firms. In the last three months, it managed to sign 15 leases. Corsair Investments LLC signed the most recent lease, which brought the property to 99% occupancy. The company leased 16,002 sf, occupying the 23 and 24 floors. Berman, Jopseph Artusa and Robert Fink, of Equity Office, represented the landlord in the transaction, while Louis D’Avanzo and Steven Bauer of Cushman & Wakefield represented Corsair.

Other companies to recently lease space include Brigade Capital Management, Brooklyn NY Holdings LLC, Essex Woodlands Health Ventures and Capital Properties. Each company leased just move than 8,000 sf.

Berman says the leases contracts were all signed for three to five years. The short-term leases were an intentional move on Equity Office’s part. “(They) would allow us to capture the market as it continued to rise over the next few years.” Additionally, the short-term lease allows these boutique firms to grow. Berman says ideally a company now located at 717 Fifth Ave. could expand in the building or to one of several other boutique office locations the company maintains in the city.

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