600 Third Ave.
600 Third Ave. (NYLJ/Rick Kopstein)

Ballard Spahr Stillman & Friedman will be moving its office to 919 Third Ave.

The firm has taken a three-year lease for nearly 20,000 square feet on the 37th floor with Jenner & Block, a subtenant of Debevoise & Plimpton. In July 2013, the litigation boutique Stillman & Friedman joined forces with Philadelphia-based Ballard Spahr and became the firm’s New York City office.

Ballard Spahr will be leaving its nearly 13,000-square-foot office at 425 Park Ave., where the firm and its predecessor have been tenants since 1988. The move is expected by early 2015 and demolition of the Park Avenue building will reportedly take place next year.

The glass and steel Third Avenue tower, between 55th and 56th streets, with 47 floors and 1.5 million square feet, is owned by SL Green Realty Corp.

Ballard Spahr was represented internally by partner Thomas Eshelman in Philadelphia. In-house counsel for Jenner & Block was Michelle McAtee, a partner in Chicago.

The overall asking rate for office space in the Midtown East area near 919 Third Ave. is about $87 per square foot, according to Savills Studley’s August report.

“The driver of our decision was the location, design and condition of the space,” said partner Charles Stillman. As existing law firm space, “very little needs to be done” and “works perfectly,” and is consistent with the firm’s long-term plans, he added.

Before joining Ballard Spahr last summer, Stillman & Friedman had 15 attorneys. The new firm has expanded to 21 full-time lawyers and two partners, one based in Philadelphia and the other in Los Angeles, who spend part of their time in New York. The firm handles white-collar defense, securities litigation and enforcement, civil litigation, appellate work, and consumer financial services regulation and litigation.

Ballard Spahr, established in Philadelphia in 1885, was one of Pennsylvania’s first law firms and has grown to become one of that city’s leading firms with more than 500 attorneys across 14 states. It represents clients in litigation, business and finance, real estate, and intellectual property. The Philadelphia Phillies, the Philadelphia Stock Exchange and major universities in the region are among its clients.

Schulte Roth & Zabel is also a tenant at 919 Third Ave.

Robert Stillman, a vice chairman at CBRE, and the son of Charles Stillman, handled the lease for the law firm.

SoHo Properties Inc. has recently acquired 49-51 Park Place, the location of a proposed Islamic cultural center and mosque in Lower Manhattan. The New York City-based commercial real estate group closed on the fee interest of the property for $10.7 million from Consolidated Edison.

Soho assumed control of the ground lease in 2009 from ConEd for $700,000. Litigation surrounding the site has been resolved with ConEd’s sale of the property to Soho. Parties confirmed that previous lawsuits have been settled, including owed real estate taxes and other disputes.

William Hibsher, a senior counsel at Bryan Cave, represented ConEd.

Goldberg Weprin Finkel Goldstein partners Andrew Albstein, Elizabeth Smith, Matthew Hearle, and associate Eli Raider represented Soho Properties.

Another property at 45-47 Park Place, formerly the Burlington Coat Factory, was acquired in 2009 by Soho Properties for nearly $5 million, according to a 2010 Crain’s New York Business report.

From the start, controversy surrounded the proposal for the development of a mosque and cultural center, formerly called Cordoba House and then Park51, because of its proximity to the World Trade Center site. Opponents at the time included Gov. David Paterson, Archbishop Timothy Dolan and former mayor Rudy Giuliani, who recommended that an alternate site be considered in Lower Manhattan, according to a 2010 ABC News report. ABC later reported that the proposal was unanimously endorsed by Community Board 1′s financial district committee.

The projected cost for development of the site several years ago was estimated to be $100 million to $140 million. Soho declined to provide a current estimate.

The development of Park Place will include a demolition to make way for a mixed-use property that will include a three-story Islamic museum, mosque and prayer center, as well as a residential component. Park Place is expected to be completed by mid-2017.

“We look forward to making further announcements and sharing our plans of building a singular, spectacular condominium tower and a hugely important cultural contribution to our city in the form of a Jean Nouvel designed museum,” said Sharif El-Gamal, Soho’s founder and CEO.

The French architect also designed the Institut du Monde Arab, or the Arab World Institute, a museum in Paris, and a contemporary Manhattan residential building at 100 11th Ave. that some experts say is similar in concept to the museum.

Founded in 2003 by El-Gamal, Soho Properties arranges and participates in real estate investments in office, residential and retail property markets in New York City for its clients, according to Soho’s website.