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Record New York Tower Acquisition Closes

Ashkenazy Acquisition Corp. and The Carlyle Group have completed their purchase of 650 Madison Avenue, a trophy asset in New York’s Plaza District, for $680 million. Trading for more than $1,130 per sq. ft., the 27-story office and retail tower garnered the highest price paid for a single asset so far this year.

“This deal further cements our position as the largest retail landlord on Madison Avenue and we are thrilled to add it to our bi-coastal portfolio of high-end assets,” says Michael Alpert, president of Ashkenazy Acquisition Corp., which purchased the property from Hiro Real Estate Co. in a joint venture with Carlyle.

The 600,000 sq. ft. structure commands one of Midtown Manhattan’s premier locations, extending the length of the block from 59th Street to 60th Street on Madison Avenue. The 90,000 sq. ft. of retail at the building’s base currently serves as the New York City flagship stores of Crate and Barrel and Tod’s. Tenants in the office tower, which offers views of Central Park, include Polo Ralph Lauren’s corporate headquarters, Columbia Presbyterian and several investment firms.

Ackman Ziff worked with the partners to secure financing from a syndicate of lenders that includes Natixis and Shorenstein. “We are pleased that during a period of economic uncertainty, where deals have not always come together easily, we were able to obtain efficient financing with significant lender interest,” Alpert says.

With the exception of a few boutique properties that fetched higher prices per square foot, 650 Madison Avenue garnered the highest price paid for a major office building this year, according to Dan Fasulo, managing director of research for Real Capital Analytics, a New York-based commercial real estate research firm.

The transaction marked the highest price paid for a single asset in 2008, eclipsed only by portfolio acquisitions. Last month, Gramercy Capital Corp. purchased American Financial Realty Trust for $3.3 billion; and Vornado Realty Trust announced it is selling its interest in refrigerated warehouse owner Americold Realty Trust to The Yucaipa Cos. The latter deal will net Vornado about $220 million in proceeds after debt and other obligations, but the portfolio is valued at $1.52 billion.

“It’s great to know that deals of this size and magnitude can still close,” Fasulo says. “It’s a sign of confidence for the entire real estate industry.”

While the final price paid for 650 Madison Avenue is less than the asset could have garnered last summer, Fasulo says, the sellers got a relatively attractive price for the current environment. “It’s a fantastic asset and you can’t get many better locations than that in Manhattan,” he says. “Both the seller and the buyer are going to be happy on that deal.”

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