NEW YORK CITY-In a transaction that enabled the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism to upgrade its headquarters office and to increase its endowment, the organization, which comprises more than 700 affiliated synagogues throughout North America, sold its 32,500-sf, seven-story office building at 155 Fifth Ave. for $26.5 million and acquired a new headquarters on two floors at 820 Second Ave.

Studley represented United Synagogue in the acquisition of 820 Second Ave. and in the sale of 155 Fifth Ave., procuring the buyer, 155 Fifth Ave. LLC, an affiliate of Philips International Holding Corp. The owner of the new headquarters, also a Philips affiliate, Second 820 Owner LLC, was represented by Newmark Knight Frank in the sale of the two floors. Senior managing director of Studley Marc Shapses, EVP Ira Schuman, and executive managing director Kurt Handschumacher juggled a number of options for the organization.

155 Fifth Ave. had been acquired 30 years ago and needed updating and renovation. United Synagogue had to decide if it should stay put and invest in costly renovations and then lease out the ground floors; sell the property and lease new office space; or sell the property and buy new space. “Ultimately, we determined that the most economically viable solution was for United Synagogue to acquire the 25,300-sf, two-floor office condominium at 820 Second Ave., a 19-story building situated at the intersection of East 44th Street,” Shapses says.

The move is planned for the early 2008. “Although the condo space on floors 10 and 11 at 820 Second Ave. is slightly smaller than its former office on Fifth Avenue, the space itself is much more efficient and therefore can accommodate the organization’s existing headcount, as well as provide room for some future growth,” Schuman notes.

Handschumacher explained that the true icing on the cake for United Synagogue was the profit realized from the sale of 155 Fifth Ave. and the purchase of the two floors at 820 Second Ave.–an increment that immediately increased United Synagogue’s endowment. “By monetizing the association’s real estate asset, we were able to substantially enhance its non-profit stature and at the same time relocate them to a permanent home for the long term,” he says.

820 Second Avenue’s occupants include both Trinidad & Tobago’s and Peru’s permanent missions to the UN and the government of Croatia. The UN Federal Credit Union now occupies floors 10 and 11 at 820 Second Ave., and will become United Synagogue’s temporary tenant until it relocates to new headquarters in Queens later this year.

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