By Gail Kalinoski, Contributing Editor – AS SEEN IN COMMERCIAL PROPERTY EXECUTIVE
Deka Immobilien GmbH, a Germany-based real estate investment company, and Ashkenazy Acquisition Corp. of New York have teamed up for the first time to acquire a two-level luxury retail condominium at 522 Fifth Ave. for $170 million from Morgan Stanley.
Located at 44th Street and Fifth Avenue, the property currently has 8,411 square feet of corner retail space, including 25 feet of frontage on Fifth Avenue in the Lower Fifth Avenue ( 42nd to 49th streets) submarket.
“522 Fifth Avenue represented a unique opportunity to bring together the expertise of a local operator with the span of a global institutional investor such as Deka,” Robert Stamm, executive managing director of Savills Studley’s U.S. Cross-Border Group, said in a news release. “Together, the firms have the ability to create a global showcase for luxury brands along one of the most desirable and dynamic retail corridors in the world. This milestone partnership sets the stage for future opportunities and we envision replicating this success going forward.”
The new owners will have the opportunity to reposition and enhance the property by adding up to 16,000 square feet of premier retail space and expanding the property’s storefront by 44 feet, according to Savills Studley.
Stamm’s group advised Deka in the acquisition and represents the investment company exclusively in the United States. Deka has about $25 billion Euro in real estate assets under management globally on behalf of private and institutional clients.
Last year, the German investment firm made a big splash on the retail scene in San Francisco, where it sold two properties in the Union Square district for $160 millionto an unidentified buyer. The assets were the Apple store at One Stockton St. and the Bulgari store at One Union Square.
JV partner Ashkenazy last month unveiled a master plan in Boston to transform the historic Faneuil Hall Marketplace by adding a hotel and retail pavilions and improving public areas. The firm has owned the site for nearly three years. Closer to its home base in Manhattan, Ashkenazy’s retail assets include Barney’s at 660 Madison Ave. and the ground lease at 625 Madison Ave., a 17-story office and retail building which it bought last December for $400 million.
While Upper Fifth Avenue in Manhattan continues to get the highest retail rents in New York City at $2,749 per square foot at the close of the second quarter, the retail space where 522 Fifth Ave. is located can lease for as much as $1,063 per square foot, according to Cushman & Wakefield’s Marketbeat Retail Snapshot for Manhattan Q2 2014. The Cushman & Wakefield report stated that “asking rental rates at this corridor of Fifth Avenue were only $540 per square foot five years ago, a 97 percent gain.”
That would mean the new JV owners of 522 Fifth Ave. should be able to increase rents for at least part of the property. Lois Weiss of The New York Post reported that the Camper shoe store has a lease for 2,060 square feet that runs until January 2023 and pays $410 per square foot. Weiss noted that Orvis, until this month, paid $142 per square foot for a 6,351-square-foot store. Renovations could increase the size of the Orvis space and add a smaller store, according to The New York Post.
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