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NEW YORK CITY-An International partnership led and controlled by Monaco-based M1 Real Estate, with Joseph Safdieh of Safka Holdings LLC and several locally based GVA Williams executives, has acquired a 99-year leasehold of 224 W. 57th St. Known as the Argonaut, the 175,000-sf structure is the former New York City headquarters of General Motors and more recently Hearst Publishing from whom the lease was acquired.

The consortium plans a major renovation of building systems and interiors, intending to have new office and retail space ready for occupancy in 2008. An estimated $45 million in hard and soft costs will be expended to renovate and retenant the building.

A source close to the deal tells GlobeSt.com that the acquisition price cannot be disclosed at this time. Located on the southeast corner of 57th Street and Broadway, the building will be gutted and will undergo complete internal renovations, including new HVAC, elevators, lobby, generators, and sprinkler systems. Some aesthetic restoration work will also be performed on the building’s exterior in conjunction with the guidelines of the city’s Landmark Preservation Commission to restore its original splendor.

The remodeled 224 W. 57th St. will offer 40,000 sf of retail space on the first three floors, according to a company statement. The source tells GlobeSt.com that the retail space would be ideal for a luxury retailer’s flagship location.

The remaining 135,000 sf of commercial space will be marketed as environmentally sustainable top-tier office space to publishers, media companies and hedge funds and other investment firms in search of high-end space with a private townhouse atmosphere. The partnership would also consider leasing it to a single tenant. The source tells GlobeSt.com that they predict the commercial space will attract publishers, media companies, hedge funds and other investment firms.

“When trying to identify something special in New York for our first American investment, this beautiful landmark building at 224 W. 57th St. was the sparkling jewel,” says Moustapha El-Solh, CEO of M1 Real Estate, in a prepared statement. “Not only is this a sophisticated building rich with history, but the 57th Street area is booming with development and full of promise. The planned renovation will make the Argonaut Building the US flagship of M1′s expanding international real estate portfolio.”

The GVA Williams team of Michael Cohen, Brian Given, Robert Sass and Robert Bakst will lead the building’s redevelopment, leasing and management team. “Nearly every building built in the last century in New York has been occupied and walked through by dozens of tenants and brokers over the years,” notes Brian Given, vice chairman of GVA Williams. “This 100-year old building is truly a gem that has only been occupied by two corporations and has never before been marketed to tenants by the brokerage community. The Argonaut is truly a one-of-a-kind property, which will be restored to its former glory and make for a great headquarters location for the right tenant.”

This partnership brings considerable experience in all aspects of real estate and redevelopment, along with an intimate knowledge of the New York market and financial stability to the project, according to Robert Sass, executive managing director of GVA Williams. “The final product will be a place that any company will be proud to call home, building on the exceptional legacy of this New York City landmark.”

The 10-story Landmark building was constructed in 1909 and became General Motors’ original New York City headquarters building. The original architect of the building was Francis H. Kimball. The Hearst Corp. purchased the building from General Motors in 1977 and took over as the second single occupant of the building. Several of the media company’s magazine titles recently moved from the building into Hearst’s new architecturally acclaimed headquarters building.

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