New York Post


June 14, 2005

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AGGRESSIVE investor Kent Swig beat out a host of eager bidders to win 25 Broad St., the 21-story landmark former office tower that was converted to rentals in 1997 and now looks ripe for condo conversion.

His company, Swig Equities, just signed to buy the building from Bruce Menin‘s Crescent Heights for north of $200 million – “very expensive,” Swig said. The deal is expected to close next month.

In 1994, Menin and a partner bought 25 Broad for $5 million. Menin pumped in $55 million to convert it to apartments and renamed it The Exchange.

Swig owns some 3.4 million square feet of commercial space downtown, and he recently bought the Sheffield apartment tower on West 57th Street. But 25 Broad is his first residential buy downtown.

“I’ve been looking at downtown residential, admiring it, and waiting for an opportune time,” Swig said. “This is a wonderful, renovated building.”

Swig says too many New Yorkers don’t appreciate Lower Manhattan’s strengths – including “one of the highest per capita income and education levels in the country, some of the best transportation, and its still-great commercial base.”

Swig wouldn’t say whether he’d convert the tower’s 346 apartments to condos, but added that both “the rental and condo markets” were currently extremely strong.

“My guess is that he bought it to convert. Every developer in the market now is looking at the future,” Prudential Douglas Elliman CEO Dottie Herman said.

The sale to Swig was brokered by CB Richard Ellis’ Darcy Stacom, who did not return calls. Menin’s office was closed yesterday and a voicemail message was not returned.

Meanwhile, a lease signed at 25 Broad just before Swig’s purchase contract will bring a large, mainstream restaurant run by seasoned pros. Bobby Van’s Steakhouse has taken 16,000 square feet, including the space that was formerly Vine.

CBRE’s Loren Baron and former CBRE broker Joshua Gettler repped both sides.

Miki Naftali‘s Elad Properties, busily converting the landmark former O’Neill Department Store at 655 Sixth Ave. into condos, has sold the building’s store space to the Labozfamily’s United American Land company.

The Labozes paid more than $20 million for the retail condo, which includes 16,000 square feet of street-level space plus 11,000 feet in the basement.

The deal was brokered by Cushman & Wakefield’s Yoav Oelsner with Jon Epstein and Charles Kingsley. Oelsner said, “The beauty of the deal is that it covers the whole Sixth Avenue blockfront” between 20th-21st streets, now occupied by Men’s Wearhouse and a few smaller stores.

Elad is spending a fortune to convert the building under Landmarks Preservation Commission oversight, and even restoring its original gold domes taken down 50 years ago. Why would Elad give up control of the store space, an important factor in the value of the apartments?

Oelsner said the contract calls for “high-end” retail use only and allows no restaurants, thus eliminating any danger of fast food.