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NEW YORK CITY-GFC Fifth Avenue LLC, an investment group led by Crown Acquisitions, Goldman Properties and the Feil Organization, has acquired the retail portion of the St. Regis New York from Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide. Purchase price for the 24,700-square-foot space at the corner of 55th Street and Fifth Avenue was $117 million, an amount that Starwood says represents a 5% cap rate on anticipated NOI for 2009.

The GFC group already holds several other retail properties along the Fifth Avenue corridor, including the retail spaces within 551, 590, 666, 717 and 743 Fifth Avenue and 1 E. 57th St. However, Crown chairman Stanley Chera tells GlobeSt.com that the retail portion of the St. Regis is exceptional even in this context.

“This property happens to be unique,” he says. “It was a no-brainer: a 5% cap on Fifth Avenue.” Tenants there include Bottega Veneta, Pucci and De Beers.

Chera notes that the GFC partnership, which has also done deals in Chicago, is keeping its eyes open for opportunities comparable to the St. Regis deal. “We’re very active on Fifth Avenue and streets like that,” he says. “The value will be irreplaceable five years from now. We’re taking advantage of a very weak market, and we have the equity.”

Starwood says sale proceeds will go towards additional debt paydown. The St. Regis deal follows the White Plains, NY-based hotelier’s $100-million sale earlier this week of Bliss Spas to Steiner Leisure Ltd. Starwood president and CEO Frits van Paasschen said in a release that the Bliss spa sale fit in with “our long term strategy to focus purely on our growing and increasingly global hospitality business.”

The CB Richard Ellis team of Darcy Stacom and Bill Shanahan, both vice chairmen at CBRE, represented Starwood in the St. Regis deal. Law firm Kramer Levin advised Starwood on the sale. Centurion Realty and Braka Family, US Realty were also included in the purchasing group.

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