Making way for residential condominiums in an iconic tower downtown, Alchemy Properties Inc. has led a group of investors in the purchase of the upper portion, 30 floors, of the Woolworth Building, 233 Broadway, for $68 million.

The sellers of the top condominium floors—Witkoff Group and Cammeby’s International Group—will continue to retain ownership of the lower floors.

The 57-story neo-Gothic landmark, also known as the Cathedral of Commerce, caught the attention of the investors, said Kenneth Horn, president of Alchemy Properties.

The Woolworth Building at 233 Broadway, and the tower’s iconic tower, above.

NYLJ Photo/Rick Kopstein (left); Photo Courtesy of Alchemy Properties (above)

“Our first impression on that bright sunny day with a panoramic view of Manhattan before us was—who wouldn’t want to live up here?” he said. The space purchased was about 170,000 square feet, he said.

Sheldon Chanales and Douglas Heller, partners at Herrick, Feinstein, along with associate Jason Goldstoff and Jennifer Dickson, senior planning and development specialist, represented the seller.

Stuart Saft, a partner and co-chair of Holland & Knight‘s New York real estate practice group, along with associates Renee Covitt, Aaron Goldberg and Laura Sugarman, represented the buyers.

Jeffrey Schwartz and Mark Silverstein, partners at Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz, and associate Seth Bell, also represented the buyers.

The Woolworth Building was reportedly purchased by Steven Witkoff and Rubin Schron’s Cammenby’s International for $137.5 million in 1998.

The residential deal was complex in the separation of the building into a residential condominium interest with the lower portion being office condominiums, Horn said. Among the issues to be resolved was the renovation of the upper floors in regard to access and materials, he said.

As a result of an earlier project, the upper section had been gutted and vacant for about a decade. The buyers expect the renovation of the 30 floors, estimated to cost about $90 million, to take about three years to complete. The final design will create 40, two- to five- bedroom luxury condominiums with 11- to 14-foot ceilings. Under the buildings copper dome will be a multi-level penthouse with an observation deck.

Media reports said condominiums, excluding the penthouse space, could cost between $2,000 to $3,000 per square foot. Residents will have a private entrance on Park Place and private elevator with direct access to the upper floors.

“We never saw a project layout like this one with a top of Manhattan view,” Horn said. He said an “enormous amount” of phone calls have come in about the condominiums and there is a running list of potential buyers.

Alchemy Properties was founded in 1990 and since that time has developed or purchased almost 2 million square feet in the New York City metropolitan area.

 


 

The Ottinger Law Firm has moved uptown to 20 W. 55th St., between Fifth and Sixth avenues. The four-attorney firm formerly leased space at 19 Fulton St., where it was a tenant for eight years.

Offices of the Ottinger Law Firm at 20 West 55th Street.   NYLJ Photos/Rick Kopstein

Ottinger, an employment law firm, took a five-year lease for 3,300 square feet on the sixth floor of the 14-story, 110,000-square-foot boutique-style office building. Previously, the firm leased about 4,000 square feet downtown, in a 300-year-old landmark building and a portion of its space was leased to two subtenants. The firm will use its entire space on West 55th Street. The building is also known as the Tower.

Mario Suarez, a partner in Thompson Hine‘s real estate group, represented the tenant.

Mark Dahn, an associate at Wilf Law Firm, in Short Hills, N.J., represented the landlord, Skyline Developers.

The building’s design includes limestone townhouses, the tower and an eight-story atrium.

There is a diverse company roster at 20 W. 55th St., and with the addition of Ottinger the building is near full capacity, according to Orin Wilf, president of Skyline Developers. The asking rate ranges from $55 per square foot to penthouse space for about $65 per square foot with terraces.

The law firm selected 20 W. 55th mainly for its convenience to financial and media clients in the uptown area, founding partner Robert Ottinger said. Another important consideration was reliable access to high-speed Internet service as well as for remote access.

Though rates are higher, the space is more efficient and less formal with an open floor plan plus two conference rooms for meetings and depositions, Ottinger said.

The Ottinger Law Firm was formed in 1999 and in addition to its Manhattan office, recently started a practice at the Spear Tower in San Francisco.

Newmark Grubb Knight Frank handled the lease for both parties: Lauren Davidson, an associate director, acted on behalf of the tenant, and William Cohen, executive vice president and principal, and Ryan Kass, a senior managing director, served the landlord.