A high-stakes development chess game is under way on West 57th Street, with savvy Sheldon Solow right in the middle.
Solow, the owner of the city’s premier office tower at 9 W. 57th St., has been quietly trying to in-fill properties to build yet another tower on the south side of the street.
He’s owned 6 W. 57th St. for many years, and has quirkily left it empty since Arista Records moved out.
Now, as we first reported, the Henri Bendel Building next door at 12 W. 57th St. is on the market through Cushman & Wakefield, and sources say that Solow is among three finalists vying for the ability to redevelop that plot.
Solow could combine No. 6 and No. 12 and create a lovely boutique building, but he has a grander scheme.
The question is, how much will it take to buy out everyone else, with at least one other group having the same idea?
Another bidder for No. 12 is a European seeking an investment and redevelopment opportunity on that shopping strip.
But Solow is also competing with a deep-pocketed Israeli group that just bought the building on the other side at No. 16-18 W. 57th St., and paid $60 million to do so, city records show.
Solow, whose representative declined to comment, must be schvitzing over missing out on that deal.
That’s because back in July, Solow also paid Dale Hemmerdinger‘s Atco Properties $60 million for No. 20-22, which is just west of the buiding to the west of the Israelis.
Kenneth Aschendorf of APF Properties scooped up No. 24 last October for $69 million after yet another developer made an unsolicited offer – sending the owner to the free market.
That art gallery building is a key parcel that runs 200 feet south through to 56th St., making it important for curb cuts and deliveries to any larger tower.
“We have been approached to sell the building,” Aschendorf told us. “Our game plan is a long-term hold on the building and we are excited about what is happening on the block and so not interested in making the fast one.”
Aschendorf also has 30,000 feet of air rights that could be transferred to another parcel but insisted they are not for sale.
“You are down the block from the most valuable retail in the world and across from the most valuable office building in the world,” Aschendorf said of Solow’s tower.
But how long can Aschendorf say “no thanks,” as offers go up?
Robert I. Shapiro of City Center Real Estate, who handles many air rights and development transactions, noted, “West 57th Street is recognized by all the major players as an undervalued shopping street which has economic development potential.”
The LeFrak Organization and Vornado Realty Trust are partners in both 40 W. 57th St. and 50 W. 57th St., as well as some on the north side: Nos. 29, 31 and 49. Solow now owns 33 and 35, which abut No. 9.
The big question mark still remains the undeveloped fenced lot at No. 60-66, which is owned by Jeffries Morris, the same firm that was finally enticed to sell the Mayflower Hotel site to the Zeckendorfs to construct 15 Central Park South. Various plans for office buildings have been put forth over the years but it remains an eyesore off Sixth Avenue.
SL Green Realty Trust has decided to market 440 Ninth Ave. for an estimated $200 million.
The Class B office building, which sits on the edge of Hudson Yards, is filled with the offices of Duane Reade and B+H Photo.
All 370,000 feet start rent rollovers in 2012 and it is being viewed as a possible conversion to hotels or condos.
“It is a good workhorse with multiple exit strategies,” said Richard Baxter of Cushman & Wakefield, who is marketing the building along with colleagues Ron Cohen, Scott Latham and Jon Caplan.
Leslie Himmel of Himmel + Meringoff just sold Isaac Chetrit‘s 989 Sixth Ave. for $49 million. The building is 114,000 feet and Peter Hauspurg and Stuart Gross of Eastern Consolidated handled the brokerage.
“Although we rarely sell properties and strongly believe in long-term ownership, we kept receiving unsolicited offers on the property from Eastern,” Himmel advised. “The brokers at Eastern Consolidated then conducted a full marketing process and succeeded in achieving aggressive numbers with many interested buyers. The contract was signed with 48 hours of being sent out.”
Gary Barnett‘s Extell Development just paid Banner Parking $28 million for a parking lot and adjacent garage at 25 W. 20th St. An out-of-towner previously had the contract but backed off when Landmarks advised the eyesore garage couldn’t come down.
Barnett will likely find a way to get all 92,000 feet of development to work itself upwards. Brian Ezratty of Eastern Consolidated was the broker.
Ezratty is also pitching The Easton at 360 E. 65th St., which has bids in the $135 million range due today. The building has 158 apartments, a garage and five stores including the restaurant Maya along First Ave. It is a likely condo conversion candidate but these days, even rental operators are willing to pay more and get paid more as leases turn over. [email protected]