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NEW YORK CITY-Locally based Ashkenazy Acquisition Corp. and the Carlyle Group have closed on its acquisition of 650 Madison Ave., an approximately 600,000-sf trophy office and retail tower. The property was acquired from Hiro Real Estate Co. for $680 million.

The property is well positioned at one of Midtown Manhattan’s premier locations–the block spanning 59th and 60th streets on Madison Avenue–across from the GM Building in the heart of the city’s Plaza District with views of Central Park and in the immediate vicinity of Barney’s. The property’s square footage includes approximately 90,000 sf of retail space, which features the New York City flagship stores of Crate and Barrel and Tod’s. Office tenants in the building include Polo Ralph Lauren’s corporate headquarters, Columbia Presbyterian, as well as several prominent investment firms.

“This deal further cements our position as the largest retail landlord on Madison Avenue and we are thrilled to add it to our bicoastal portfolio of high-end assets,” notes Ashkenazy Acquisition Corp. president Michael Alpert, in a prepared statement. “Situated at the epicenter of New York City’s most coveted office and retail neighborhood, this Midtown tower leased to world-class tenants presented a rare real estate opportunity that we embraced with enthusiasm. We are pleased that during a period of economic uncertainty, where deals have not always come together easily, we were able to obtain efficient financing with significant lender interest.”

Ashkenazy Acquisition owns notable properties across the US including Washington, DC’s Union Station, Barney’s New York locations in New York, Beverly Hills and Chicago, and San Antonio’s River Center Mall. A syndicate of lenders that includes Natixis and Shorenstein provided the financing for the transaction. Ackman Ziff worked with the partners to secure financing.

The joint venture was represented by counsel, Kriss & Feuerstein LLP and Greenberg Traurig LLP. Eastdil Secured participated in an advisory role on behalf of the buyer. JP Morgan Chase Realty Advisors represented the seller, Hiro Real Estate Co.

As GlobeSt.com previously reported, this sale confirms trophy strength. The drop in price from year-end 2007 to the start of this year caused speculation in some quarters that the credit crunch is depressing the value of trophy Manhattan office properties. However, Deborah Jackson, executive managing director of locally based Weiser Realty Advisors, told GlobeSt.com at the time the deal was revealed that “no one deal makes a market, even though the price on that deal declined,” adding that “money is still available,” especially for well-located, well-leased properties.

As far as investment sales goes, Cushman & Wakefield’s Q1 ’08 report says that the first quarter of 2008 was down significantly from the first quarter of 2007, largely due to uncertainty in the financial and debt markets and a lack of product for sale. “Investors–like office tenants–are pausing to gauge the uncertainty in the economy and what impact it may have on the office leasing market,” said Joseph Harbert, COO for C&W’s New York Metro Region, during a breakfast presentation Tuesday. “Despite the slowdown, a significant amount of capital is still focused on the Manhattan market and confidence is high over the long-term.”

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