SBLI USA Mutual Life Insurance Co., the 73-year-old insurance provider still reeling from several big investments in mortgage-backed securities several years ago, has inked a five-year renewal at 460 West 34th Street, sources familiar with the deal said last week.
Savings Bank Life Insurance, as the company is informally known, signed the lease for 33,000 square feet following a year-long search throughout the Plaza district. Asking rent at the space, which is equal in size to its prior lease, started in the high $20s per square foot, sources confirmed with The Commercial Observer.
Paul Revson and Daniel Horowitz of Studley represented the tenant and Ed Hart of Kaufman Realty represented the 21-story property, which over the past 12 months has seen new leases from tenants such as Counsel Press, which inked a 21,000-square-feet deal in May. A spokeswoman for Studley declined to comment.
Founded in 1939, the New York-based insurer was established from a template created by future U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, who, after witnessing corruption within the industry, launched a company that operated out of banks in order for policyholders to pay their premiums where they deposited their checks.
While once considered a preferred life insurance company for New Yorkers of modest means, SBLI was barred in 2009 from selling new policies and has since been forced to dip into reserves in order to stay in the black, according to reports.
“The combination of no new business coming in and their telling A.M. Best not to rate them suggest a company that’s headed to runoff or receivership,” Mark Peters, the former head of the New York Liquidation Bureau, told Crain’s New York last month.
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