Encore! Two More Soho Buildings Go for $1,000 a Foot

MetLife Brings Buying Back

Watch out, here comes MetLife. After making two colossal sales—200 Park Avenue for $1.72 billion in June 2005 and Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village for $5.4 billion last year—it seemed like the insurance giant was cashing out. And that wouldn’t be a bad strategy, either (what better time than now?).

But it appears the company’s not done. Quietly, MetLife is creeping back into the Manhattan real-estate game.

Since April 30, MetLife has made more than $50 million worth of buys in the city. It purchased a nine-story building near Union Square at 110 East 16th Street for $20.8 million; it bought a garage at 569 Lexington Avenue for $26.9 million; and it purchased a parking lot at 155 East 38th Street for $6.7 million.

“These properties fit well within our long-term strategy for real-estate investments,” wrote Christopher Breslin, a spokesman for MetLife, in an e-mail to The Observer.

He said the garage, parking lot and office building “fit a particular niche” in the company’s real-estate portfolio.

What niche? He wouldn’t say, but the point is clear: MetLife, however slowly, is back.

Think Midtown Office Space Is Expensive? You Don’t Know Tokyo

Hey, apparently midtown is a pretty good bargain.

Sure, midtown Manhattan may rank as North America’s most expensive commercial market, but compared to the rest of the world, it’s cheap! Midtown’s average office rent of $69.44 per foot is the 21st-most-expensive market worldwide, according to a new study conducted by CB Richard Ellis.

Not surprisingly, it’s the West End in London that takes the top spot in the annual list, with average rents of $241.22 per square foot (now is the time to stop ogling at rents in the Seagram Building!). The City of London’s average of $165 a foot was second-highest.

Districts in Tokyo (rents in the $160’s and $140’s) came right behind London for the world’s priciest office space, and India is getting pretty hot. Mumbai rose two spots to take fifth place (rents at $138 per foot), and New Delhi cracked the top 10 this year ($116 per foot) for the first time.

But the world should take notice: Here comes downtown Manhattan. The financial district ranked 10th with the world’s fastest-growing rents, with a rent increase of 43 percent from last year.