GM Building Naming Rights Officially Up for Grabs

gmgetty GM Building Naming Rights Officially Up for GrabsThe naming rights for the GM Building, one of the rarest opportunities in New York real estate, are officially in play.

During last week’s third-quarter investors call, Boston Properties president Douglas Linde included in his prepared remarks the following: “We can report that we were able to retain General Motors in 114,000 square feet for 10 years at 767 Fifth Avenue, the GM Building. As part of the lease, we recaptured the right to name the building in the future.”

This is the first time since 1968, when General Motors completed construction of the 50-story tower at 767 Fifth Avenue, that the rights to dub perhaps the single most coveted skyscraper in the country — on Fifth Avenue, above the Apple cube, across from the Plaza and Central Park, in the center of what is arguably the country’s, if not the world’s, most glamorous shopping district — are available.

GM won the privilege by building the tower. But its heyday atop New York real estate is a thing of the past. Following GM’s June 1 bankruptcy filing, it scrapped plans to relocate its New York headquarters to 601 Lexington Avenue, also owned by Boston Properties. As The Observer reported last month, a more austere-minded GM opted instead  to stay put at its, for now, eponymous tower.  

Later on, during the Q&A session of Boston’s third-quarter call, Green Street Advisors senior analyst Michael Knott dug further.

Mr. Knott: “Now that you have recaptured the naming rights to the GM Building, can you just update us on how you’re thinking about maximizing the value of that opportunity and what the timetable is?”

Boston Chairman Mort Zuckerman: “We have recaptured the naming rights, and the ability to capitalize on it is under the heading of TK – to come. There will be somebody, some company, that’s going to want to have that building named, there is. If I venture to say along perhaps with – it’s certainly the most famous new building built in the last 50 years in the world. I mean, when we bought the General Motors building, I cannot tell you the number of stories that were sent into us from countries all around the world. So somebody is going to want to have that acknowledgement. We really – this has all just has become, shall we say, available more recently. We will just have to see who it is, who would like to have that naming and what they will pay for it.

Mr. Knott: “Just to be clear, is it an explicit payment that you would get or would it be just baked into maybe a rent for a tenant or –?

Mr. Zuckerman: “We would just as soon have it be baked into a rent with a tenant. We would rather have it be [a] tenant that occupies the building, even if we, shall we say, take a little bit less. I just think that’s – it’s just there is a better feel for it when that’s the circumstance. But it may not be possible because we are going to have virtually no space in that building at this point, given what’s going on in that building.”

Any interest, Steve Jobs?

drubinstein@observer.com