The gaudy peacock, the male of the peafowl species, frequently attracts and then mates with a seraglio of adoring peahens.
Similarly, NBC Universal, media giant of the peacock logo, has attracted a harem of brokers, all hoping to score the big deal that will garner the conglomerate more than 600,000 square feet in Manhattan, and garner the broker a sizable nest egg. “NBC is the 800-pound peacock in the market,” laughed one real estate insider.
But while the dazzling cock can satisfy multiple hens, NBC Universal can satisfy only one. It is, therefore, a very eligible bachelor.
“How could you do better than NBC?” asked one broker, rhetorically, of course. “It’s got great cachet. They’ve got a great momentum. The Olympics were such a success.”
The conglomerate—which controls Oxygen, the Weather Channel, Telemundo, Bravo, the Sci Fi Channel, USA, Universal Pictures, CNBC and MSNBC—is looking for so much space, according to the insider, in part because it plans to sell some of the commercial condo space it now occupies in Rockefeller Center. NBC wouldn’t comment for this article but in a May release said that the new digs would house a business operations center, consolidating employees now dispersed at 437 Madison Avenue, 2 Park Avenue and the Chelsea Market.
Speculation about where the peacock will land runs rampant, thanks to the size of the deal, thanks to its undeniable glamour and thanks to the lack of much else to talk about.
For a time, it was thought that NBC execs would choose Larry Silverstein’s 7 World Trade Center. But then HSBC Bank strode in and declared its intentions (unofficially, anyway). After the bird was spotted in the environs of 11 Times Square, gossip shifted northward. Now the fickle peacock tease is said to have landed on Worldwide Plaza at 825 Eighth Avenue, which has 709,000 square feet available in the comparatively reasonable mid-$90s a square foot.
“When Jeff Zucker is selling off GM’s appliances, they’re not going to go to the most expensive new tower in town,” said the insider, referring to NBC Universal’s president. “Jeff Zucker is not a stupid guy.”
Other contenders for the honor of becoming the new NBC building? Robert Sammons, of Colliers ABR, recently put out a list of buildings with more than 600,000 square feet. Let’s go through them, shall we?
St. John’s Center, at 532-582 Washington Street, has 750,000 square feet, available immediately. But word has it that the building needs a lot of work, and it’s not particularly well located. As one broker snarked, “I can’t imagine anyone wanting to go there, unless all their employees drive to work.”
Other possibilities include the former New York Times building at 229 West 43rd Street, owned by Lev Leviev’s Africa Israel Investments, with 627,000 square feet; and Alex Sapir’s 100 Church Street, with 613,000 square feet. Of course, that pesky phenomenon called shadow space might just throw a wrench into all our calculations.
Even so, the news should be forthcoming, now that the Olympics have passed, Gustav has left town and the conventions will soon be over. Word has it that NBC Universal wants to hammer out a deal in the next few months.
Until then, the peacock will dazzle.
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