Sh! Kindly Kleins Put 32 Union Square East On the Market

With nary a whisper, a Union Square building is for sale, and may even have sold. The building, 32 Union Square East—the onetime home of the Klein’s Department Store annex that now houses dozens of small offices, a Babies R Us, and a Vitamin Shoppe—is, at the very least, on the market.

The Klein family has been quietly circulating the offering via word of mouth, said Martin Meyer, an executive senior managing director at GVA Williams who does not represent the family.

The building, at 145,772 square feet, has been in the Klein family since at least 1978, and likely earlier, according to city records. It’s a rare, rare opportunity in a highly lucrative Union Square market.

After hearing word of the sale, Mr. Meyer, acting as the principal in an investment partnership, submitted a number in the “very high eight-figure” range. The offer was rejected. Now rumor has it that the building is in contract with someone else.

Some say it will stay with the family. Others hear a hotelier is interested. Meanwhile, some insist the Kleins are merely curious to find out what they could get, if they so desired.

The possibility of a sale has rendered the building’s motley tenants, who seem happy with the Klein family’s stewardship, anxious.

Thomas Venturella, who has run his stained glass conservation firm, Venturella Studio, from the building since 1978, said he hopes the property stays with the apparently benevolent Kleins.

“I like the building very much,” Mr. Venturella said. “It’s not glitzy, though they put a cheesy new lobby down in the front.

“If it does go out of the Klein family to one of these moguls—you’ve certainly seen what’s going on with the W Hotel, which is nothing more than a Best Western—I have no idea [where I would go],” he said. “I would almost be tempted to leave the country.”

“Me, personally, I hope they don’t sell it anytime soon,” said Jeffrey Gross, who has practiced sports medicine and rehabilitation in the building since 2004.

For its part, the Klein family declined to comment.

Sh! Kindly Kleins Put 32 Union Square East On the Market