NEW YORK CITY-Real estate developer the Harch Group has named Newmark Knight Frank the exclusive leasing agent for 218 W. 18th St., which is currently undergoing a $20 million renovation. The 170,000-sf building’s first new tenant, Ascent Media, a division of Liberty Media Co., signed a 10-year, 30,000-sf lease for the top three floors in January. The asking price was in the mid-$50s per sf and will continue to remain around that price once the renovation is complete, according to a source close to the owner.

“We are delighted to be named exclusive leasing agent for 218 W. 18th St., which will be without question one of the most attractively renovated commercial buildings south of 34th Street,” stated David Falk, EVP & principal of Newmark Knight Frank, in a prepared statement. The source tells that Newmark was chosen because they are an “innovative, experienced, knowledgeable and creative company.”

The extensive renovation being done by the Manhattan-based Harch Group was designed by a+i design corp. The brick facade is being restored to its original condition, and three new passenger elevators have been installed. The tenant lobby will be redesigned, with high-end wood grain floors, back-lit weathered steel wall panels, and an integrated 24-hour stone reception and security desk.

A number of green elements including recycled materials and energy efficient windows are also being added throughout the building. The 17-foot high ground floor retail area will have a new entrance, enlarged storefront windows with weathered steel details, and custom fit glass. The retail will extend to the basement level with 20-foot high ceilings.

The Harch Group, who purchased the building from GVA Williams in May 2007, began converting the industrial space in January into a mixed-use building, and is expecting to be complete this summer, the source tells

“218 W. 18th St.’s innovative transformation will attract exciting, growing companies to this prime area of Chelsea, which is at the epicenter of creativity in Manhattan,” says Harry Jeremias, principal of the Harch Group, in a prepared statement.

New bathrooms on each tenant floor will feature European plumbing fixtures, oil rubbed bronze hardware, integrated lighting design, and weathered steel detailing. Security is provided by a 24-hour concierge and tenant card access with individual identification numbers for easy communication with security, superintendent and management. There is also a monitored security system with cameras in all common areas.

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