So, as we all know by now, Lev Leviev’s Africa Israel will buy the longtime headquarters of The New York Times at 229 West 43rd Street for $525 million.
We’re all talking about Mr. Leviev’s blowout buy, but where is the conversation about the seller, Tishman Speyer? Going back four months, the company has sold nearly $3 billion worth of properties. It closed on its $1.8 billion sale of 666 Fifth Avenue in January, and now it’s in contract to sell both the Times Building and the Lipstick Building for $607 million.
No one is accusing one of the city’s most elite landlords of cashing out. But still. Maybe Jerry and Rob Speyer need a little more capital to help pay for the $5.4 billion buy at Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village? Just asking.
In any event, Mr. Leviev’s buy is a stunner. The building’s availability had been reported in The Times only two and a half weeks earlier, and first-round bids weren’t even close to being due. Mr. Leviev evidently really wanted the building, wrote a check and voila!
Is the preemptive buy the wave of the future? It’s the same way that the Lipstick Building was sold. It seems especially attractive to fresh-faced commercial buyers like Mr. Leviev and Haim Revah, who bought Lipstick, and who probably don’t want to risk the tricky and unpredictable world of the on-market bidding process.
For Mr. Leviev, 229 West 43rd is his new venture into commercial real estate. The company will spend at least $180 million in gutting the decrepit building and then decide whether or not to sell it or keep it on the market. (Tishman Speyer had already started an advertising campaign for the newly renovated building, but abandoned it once the market got really hot.)
Mr. Leviev had been involved in Manhattan real-estate deals before with developer Shaya Boymelgreen, but their partnership is over for now. Let’s see if this is just the start for Mr. Leviev.
Of course, Mr. Leviev has just added an impressive trophy to his company’s portfolio. In March, he purchased a 50 percent stake in the famed Upper West Side residential building, the Apthorp, for $426 million—or $2.4 million per apartment, the most ever paid for a residential building.
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