Real estate investor David Werner is buying the upper portion of the Woolworth Building for a reported $70 million.
Mr. Werner, a Brooklyn-based buyer, has made several notable acquisitions in the recent past. Last November he entered into contract to purchase the prominent Long Island City skyscraper 1 Court Square, a 700,000-square-foot office tower largely occupied by Citibank, for a little under $500 million from SL Green.
Reached in his office, Mr. Werner said he couldn’t speak until the contract for the deal for Woolworth’s space closes in about 10 days.
Though the details of the transaction weren’t yet clear by press time, sources say that Mr. Werner is buying floors 29 through 54 at the top of the landmark neo-gothic tower, a roughly 120,000-square-foot space.
The floors have been kept vacant for years by the current owners of the property, a partnership between the investors Steve Witkoff and Rubin Schron. The two have come up several plans for the space over the years, including converting it into residential space.
During the real estate boom years, Mr. Witkoff and Mr. Schron envisioned the space as high end offices that would charge some of the highest rents ever sought by a landlord in Lower Manhattan. The idea fizzled when the market took a sharp decline during the recession.
The pair had also been rumored to be considering a sale of the space several times in recent years.
Sources said that Mr. Werner would likely seek to convert the floors into luxury residential condos, though Mr. Werner would provide no confirmation of that plan. Such a plan would be notable as few condo conversions have been undertaken since the economic downturn because condo pricing had dipped and could be another sign that the residential market is rebounding.
“I could imagine Anna Wintour wanting to buy one of the units,” one investment sales expert who spoke with The Commercial Observer said, referring to famous Conde Nast editor who will be in the neighborhood in the coming years when Conde Nast relocates to One World Trade Center.
The investment sales source imagined the building’s residential units commanded $2,000 per square foot because of the building’s sweeping views and high ceilings.
Crain’s previously reported that a buyer had gone into contract to purchase the Woolworth space for $70 million but didn’t identify Mr. Werner.