Why the Art Association Crossed the Borough

Last month, the 100-year-old College Art Association signed a new 9,785-square-foot lease at 50 Broadway, thus relinquishing space it had held at 275 Seventh Avenue for 25 years. Cushman & Wakefield senior director Carri Lyon spoke to The Commercial Observer about the reasons behind the nonprofit’s relocation and the allure of Lower Manhattan, which seems to be drawing tenants from all corners of the city as of late.

The Commercial Observer: Why did the College Art Association decide to move after occupying space at Seventh Avenue for a quarter of its existence?

Ms. Lyon: Money! We looked on and off for several years, and, for one thing, they were on two different floors. They’d been in the building many years and they had expanded, so they had 4,500 feet on two separate floors. And, first of all, they wanted to all be together, and they wanted to take advantage of the market.

So we really stepped up the search more recently, but their lease is up in July of this year. We’d looked all over—we looked in the boroughs—but we were really thrilled about what we saw downtown, especially at the United Federation of Teachers building.


It seems like the building’s tenancy shares some commonalities with the College Art Association, what with organizations like the YWCA, the League for the Hard of Hearing and the International Network for Public Schools all being non profits.

They do. It’s a wonderful tenant roster. There are many other tenants in there that are related to schools; all kinds of nonprofits are in there. And they were able to step into the shoes, I guess you’d say, of a tenant who had done a beautiful build-out of the space. They got just a lovely above-standard, elegant build-out inexpensively.


How big a difference were rents at 275 Seventh Avenue compared to 50 Broadway?

Well, I have to be careful in talking about that. But it was quite a bit less. I think I can say that it was significantly less than renewing in the building—and they were able to qualify for the commercial revitalization benefits of up to $2.50 a foot. That was an old Giuliani incentive, and it’s through the Department of Finance, and it’s terrific.

But a lot of brokers forget to tell tenants looking downtown about the program.


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Why the Art Association Crossed the Borough