NEW YORK CITY—In a city where much of the most modern office stock was built 30 years ago—and where those buildings are competing with shiny new inventory—owners of existing assets are finding that the best way to stand out from the crowd is capital improvement.
Three major owners in the city are embarking on large-scale programs to accomplish exactly that, and they spoke of their plans Tuesday during a meeting of NYC’s NAIOP chapter in Midtown. Robert Lapidus, president and CIO of L&L Holdings, spoke about the company’s plans for 390 Madison Ave.; Robert Jackson, EVP of the Rockefeller Group, spoke about the revision of the Time-Life Building, at 1271 Ave. of the Americas and Seth Pinsky, EVP of RXR, revealed the big refurbishment of Pier 57 that’s on the horizon.
“The excitement today is in Midtown South and Downtown,” admitted Lapidus. “So what you have to do in Midtown is take these commodity buildings and create something fresh.”
L&L is doing just that with the “commodity space” it holds at the corner of 47th street, he said. “We plan to demolish several floors and we’re restacking the building to create some floors with double and triple heights as well as re-create the exterior, the outdoor space and the retail so there will be an amenity that’s special and unique for every floor.”
He continued, “Retail on Madison Ave. in the 40s is pretty boring—you can buy a men’s suit and do some bankig but that’s about it—so we wanted to create something that’d stand out. The design is modeled after Alice Tully Hall [at Lincoln Center] and we envision an Eataly-type concept for the building that creates some vitality for the space and the neighborhood.”
Within the office space at the building, Lapidus said, “we created a big column free space that can be used for a town hall, a trading floor or other uses. We want to give tenants optionality.” The company also created a private lobby that could be used by a smaller tenant.
More specificallly, a spokesman told GlobeSt.com, the tenants likely to be courted by L&L “most likely would be a TAMI (tech, advertisement, media and information) or fashion tenant, although financial firms are possible as well.”
Meanwhile, in the iconic Rockefeller Center area, Sixth avenue’s Time-Life Building is headed for a more than $300 million restoration now that Time Inc.—the primary tenant—is vacating the building in 2017. The refurbished tower is slated for delivery the following year. “We wanted to modernize while building on the asset’s location, its large floor plates and the numerous amenities in the area,” said Jackson. “With the building being vacated, we had a one time opportunity to rejuvenate the property for future years.”
Windows and the building’s façade will be replaced, creating 50% more light in the building, allowing for the creation of function space and perimeter offices, he noted. The change—along with an elevator upgrade that will turn the building from a single-tenant enabled tower to one that can host several companies—creates the flexibility to host various types of tenants, he said.
“We won’t discriminate against anyone but we’re open to law firms, technology companies and professional firms,” Jackson told GlobeSt.com.
Slated to reopen in 2018, the building also will get technology upgrades on every floor to enable better data and voice communication and a new, prominent entrance on Sixth ave. Currently, the building is accessed on 50th street.
For RXR’s part, the 500,000-square-foot restored Pier 57 will feature a “creative mix of retail and food,” said Pinsky, adding that the real estate firm is “talking to an anchor food tenant.”
The over $300 million complex, which is slated to open in mid 2017, will feature office space for “creative users” as well as a rooftop area which RXR is working to fill out with a restaurant and open space. However, Pinsky added, “Perhaps the most unique space is the caisson space, which features 25-foot-high ceilings and is literally under water; it is enclosed and waterproof. We’re in conversations w/a fitness co. looking to do some interesting concepts there.”
“We are creating a new landmark and we want to restore the Pier’s glory,” he said. “This will be an amenity unlike anything in NYC.”