Chrysler Building to Sell to RFR for About $150 Million

(Bloomberg) -- Aby Rosen’s RFR Holding LLC has reached an agreement to buy Manhattan’s landmark Chrysler Building for about $150 million, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

That price is significantly below the $800 million the Abu Dhabi Investment Council paid in 2008 for a 90 percent stake in the art deco tower near Grand Central Terminal. The deal includes both the office building and the Trylons -- the pyramid-shaped retail complex adjacent to the property -- said one of the people, who wasn’t authorized to speak because the matter is private.

A spokesman for CBRE Group Inc., which is marketing the property, declined to comment. Representatives for RFR and Tishman Speyer, which owns a 10 percent stake, also declined to comment.

Chrysler Building to Sell to RFR for About $150 Million

The tower, completed in 1930 and one of the most recognizable symbols of Manhattan’s skyline, was for a short time the tallest building in the world, only to be surpassed when the Empire State Building opened the following year. But its interior is aging, and New York tenants have been favoring new glassy skyscrapers at Hudson Yards on the far west side and the World Trade Center downtown.

Another factor that brokers say dents the value of the Chrysler Building is increasing expenses tied to its ground lease. The land under the tower is owned by the Cooper Union school, which raised the annual fee to $32.5 million last year from $7.75 million in 2017, CBRE confirmed in January. More increases are scheduled in coming years.

“The ground lease is a glaringly obvious negative,” said Adelaide Polsinelli, a broker at New York City-based Compass. “The other negatives are that the space is not new and it is landmarked, therefore it’s twice as hard to get anything done.”

Tishman Speyer bought the Chrysler Building with a partner in 1998 for about $230 million, and several years later they sold a 75 percent interest to Germany’s TMW. Abu Dhabi bought the German fund’s share as well as part of Tishman’s in 2008. The Real Deal earlier Friday reported that RFR was close to a deal to buy the tower.

Rosen, known as an art collector as well as a developer, controls properties including the Seagram Building, another landmark Midtown skyscraper. He is marketing condos at 100 E. 53rd St., a tower designed by Norman Foster’s architecture firm.

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