Lease Beat

First Tenant Near Signing at 51 Astor

Maverick developer Edward Minskoff is close to bagging his first tenant for 51 Astor Place, the spec office building he is boldly building in Cooper Square without any guaranteed tenants in hand.

Hult International Business School is in talks to take 51 Astor’s entire second floor, a roughly 55,000-square-foot space. Sources say the school could pay rents that begin in the $60s per square foot but escalate to around $100 per square foot over the life of a long term lease at the roughly 400,000-square-foot property.

minskoff First Tenant Near Signing at 51 Astor

Edward Minskoff.

The deal isn’t done just yet, however. The school is still waiting to receive approval from the New York Board of Regents, the government body that oversees all educational institutions in the state, a source said.

The deal would be the first transaction in the 12-story building, which was designed by the acclaimed Japanese architect Fumihiko Maki and is currently under construction.

While Mr. Minskoff has been shopping the office property to a host of prominent tenants, including Facebook and Microsoft according to industry sources, a deal with an education tenant was preordained when he bought into the project.

Mr. Minskoff purchased the site from the university Cooper Union in 2007. The parcel used to be home to one of the school’s engineering buildings and included a requirement in its zoning that any structure Mr. Minskoff built retain about 50,000 square feet of educational use.

Though the deal, if it gets done, will be mandatory, it still is a sign of progress.

At a luncheon hosted by the Young Men’s/Women’s Real Estate Association last week in Midtown, Mr. Minskoff gave a PowerPoint presentation demonstrating the new tower’s state of the art design and features.

“This is not the biggest building I’ve ever built,” Mr. Minskoff, who was responsible for developing the eight-million-square-foot World Financial Center complex in Lower Manhattan in the 1980s, said during the luncheon. “But it’s definitely the coolest.”

During the luncheon, Mr. Minskoff revealed that he invested around $100 million of equity to finance the project, what appears to be a substantial bet on the building’s success that has revived his reputation in the city for being a real estate visionary with ironclad nerves. Leasing has slowed in the city in recent months, but activity has remained strong in the Midtown South neighborhood where 51 Astor is located, countervailing forces that tug at vastly different outcomes.

Mr. Minskoff couldn’t be reached for comment on the deal with Hult, nor could a spokeswoman for the school.

The New York branch would be Hult’s sixth location if it opens. The school currently operates two campuses in the US, in Boston and San Francisco and three elsewhere around the globe, in London, Dubai and Shanghai. The school caters to international students and offers several degrees including an MBA.

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