We’re tempted to wax hyperbolic about the potential sale by Harry Macklowe of the GM Building, so, what the heck, we will: It could fetch a truly historic record, perhaps becoming the biggest single biggest building sale of our lifetimes (and the average age of The Observer‘s real estate desk is 27.5 right now).
Here’s the quick math first, then the historical benchmarks. Most top-flight office towers in New York trade now for at least $1,000 a square foot. The GM Building, definitely a top-flight tower, has 1.9 million square feet. So: 1.9 million feet X $1,000 = $1.9 billion. But! Most really top-flight buildings in New York trade for over $1,200, maybe over $1,500, a foot. The GM Building is definitely in this league. So, the math one more time: 1.9 million feet X $1,500 = $2.85 billion. (And don’t forget the GM Building’s top-flight retail, including the Apple store on Fifth Avenue.)
Let’s conservatively assume, then, that the GM Building could get at least $2 billion in any sale. That’s the math. Now, the history for comparison’s sake.
A $2 billion sale would make it the most expensive single-building sale in American history (and probably in the history of most nations on Earth). The current record holder is 666 Fifth Avenue, bought a year ago by Kushner Companies for $1.8 billion. (Observer publisher Jared Kushner is a principal in that firm.)
Any sale significantly over $2 billion–that’s definitely in the realm of possibility–and the GM Building would be in truly rarefied company, the sort of club that let’s in members only every half-century, if that.
Here’s part of the lead from The New York Times’ story by Charles Bagli and Janny Scott about what became the $5.4 billion sale of the Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village complexes in 2006:
With a target price of nearly $5 billion, the sale would be the biggest deal for a single American property in modern times.
In modern times! A history teacher once told us that modern times started with the fall of the Bastille in July 1789.
The GM Building probably won’t get $5.4 billion. But, if it fetches anywhere close to that price, as a single-building sales record it would likely outlive us all.
Who needs presidential dog-and-pony shows when you got stakes like this?