Nielsen Company Ankles Leg Room at 770 Broadway

030507 article breaks2 Nielsen Company Ankles Leg Room at 770 BroadwayGood news for the folks at Billboard, Adweek and The Hollywood Reporter. There won’t be a move to Brooklyn.

Now, the bad news: Editors and reporters will have to get used to working close to one another. Very close.

The Nielsen Company (formerly VNU) has abandoned a plan to move to downtown Brooklyn, but is close to shedding two floors at its Astor Place home at 770 Broadway, a spokesman confirmed.

Brokers at Vornado Realty Trust, which owns the building, have been informing the commercial world that those two floors—the fourth and the fifth—will be opening up later this year, according to two sources. Those floors are 76,000 square feet each.

The spokesman for Nielsen, which owns the TV-ratings service and publications like Billboard, said that the company was close to a decision to give those floors back to Vornado—one in April, the other in December—but it wasn’t quite there yet. He added that Vornado “jumped the gun” by announcing the floors’ availability.

The Nielsen Group controls more than 600,000 square feet at 770 Broadway, on Floors 4 through 8 and 13 through 15.

It’s unclear how many employees work on Floors 4 and 5, but with 150,000 square feet of space, there are probably a lot. The handy rubric in real estate is that there’s one employee for every 200 square feet. In this case, that works out to more than 700 workers who need new cubes on other floors.

So what does that mean?

Say goodbye to cozy legroom!

“We will try to consolidate as best we can, right here,” said Jack Loftus, the spokesman for Nielsen. “We have open cube space around here.”

It’s a jittery time for Nielsen. After being sold to a group of investors for $9.7 billion, the company announced that it would cut 10 percent of its cost base. And the only thing more expensive for any company than employees is real estate.

The broker representing Nielsen, Bob Giglio of Cushman & Wakefield, wouldn’t comment for this story, but he told The Observer back in January: “Basically, as a corporation, they are looking to run more efficiently, and they’re looking how to do that real-estate-wise.”

And nothing warms a publication’s heart more than hearing about efficiency.

THE FLASHY REAL-ESTATE MOGUL Aby Rosen has purchased the Noho building that’s home to his new investment, the Chinatown Brasserie, for $30 million.

Mr. Rosen’s RFR Holding bought the 118-year-old landmark at 376-380 Lafayette Street, at the corner of Great Jones Street. The sale was recorded in city records.

Mr. Rosen, a principal at RFR, is an investor in the Chinatown Brasserie, a restaurant that he described as the “Chinese Balthazar.” The polished-up eatery opened last year and specializes in a broad range of dim sum with a star-studded cast of two chefs. It opened in the space that used to belong to Time Cafe.

The owners of the Chinatown Brasserie, John McDonald and Josh Pickard, own the restaurants Lever House and Lure Fishbar, too. (Mr. Rosen is an investor in both.)

Mr. Rosen’s RFR, incidentally, owns the Lever House, at 390 Park Avenue, as well as the Seagram Building across the street. The addition of 380 Lafayette draws another historic building to the firm’s impressive portfolio of small but lucrative trophies.

The building at 380 Lafayette stands at six stories and holds 40,000 square feet. A host of architectural firms counts as its main tenants. Henry Hardenbergh, the same architect behind the Plaza hotels and the Dakota apartments, designed the building.

In 1987, Crain’s noted that 380 Lafayette had “an unusual elegance for an industrial building,” with touches like terra cotta, brick ornamental details and the wide, truncated columns that outline the Chinatown Brasserie.

The building is also a city landmark, so if Mr. Rosen decides to make any cosmetic adjustments to the building, he’ll have the chance to once again tangle with Robert Tierney, the chairman of the Landmarks Preservation Commission. Mr. Rosen is in a heated dispute over the scale and scope of a new condo he wants to build atop a landmark building at 980 Madison.

Mr. Rosen couldn’t be reached for comment for this story.

WELL, NOW THE Knickerbocker officially belongs to Dubai.

Istithmar, which is controlled by the sheikhdom’s ruling family, closed on the deal on Feb. 9, even though the building at 6 Times Square went to contract on April 19, 2006.

The sale price was at $300 million and was recorded in city records.

Representatives from Istithmar didn’t return calls for comment on the reason for the 10-month delay, but either way, it’s in their hands now.

The building is 15 stories, with 298,000 square feet. Istithmar is reportedly interested in converting the former Knickerbocker back into a hotel.

Of course, the Dubai investment firm has been hot for hotels. Istithmar bought a majority stake of the Mandarin Oriental in December, and put down $285 million for the W Hotel in Union Square last year.