Lease Beat

George Lucas’s GF Inks At 340 Madison

The investment management firm run by director George Lucas’s girlfriend has signed an office deal at 340 Madison Avenue.

Ariel Investments, a Chicago based financial company, will take 6,500 square feet on the building’s 18th floor. Rents at the 660,000-square-foot office tower, which is owned by the prolific real estate investment firm RXR Realty, range from the upper $60s to the low $70s per square foot though the exact rate that Ariel will pay was not disclosed in RXR’s announcement this morning of the deal.

mellody and george George Lucass GF Inks At 340 Madison

Mellody and George

“Ariel Investments is viewed as one of the top investment management firms in the country and we are very pleased they chose 340 Madison Avenue to house their New York office,” William Elder, executive vice president and managing director of RXR’s New York City division, said in a statement released this morning by the firm.

Ariel is led by Mellody Hobson, one of the country’s leading black female investment managers, who was named the company’s president in 2000. Ms. Hobson has dated George Lucas, the creator of the blockbuster Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises, since the mid 2000s and has also become a regular guest on television news shows commenting on financial issues.

Though Ariel has been in operation in Chicago since the early 1980s, the firm established a presence in Manhattan only in recent years. Initially, Ariel leased a smaller space at 340 Madison from Regus, a tenant that occupies the building’s entire 19th floor, a roughly 37,000-square-foot space, and offers office suites for rent to small companies and individuals.

“In selecting our first office outside of our near 30-year long Chicago headquarters, we wanted our Manhattan office to be conveniently located and offer world-class amenities,” Ms. Hobson said in the statement.

Ariel will occupy a portion of 340 Madison Avenue’s 18th floor. The rest of the roughly 35,000 square-foot-floor is filled by the financial company Mass Mutual. The space was previously occupied by another financial company called Nuveen Investments and Ariel will be able to inherit some the office installation left behind by that tenant. It will also use incentive money in the transaction offered by RXR to spruce up the space.

Since buying 340 Madison Avenue in mid 2010 for about $570 million, RXR has not had to deal with major vacancy issues at the building, focusing instead on filling small availabilities at the property as they come available.

About 13,000 square feet on the 10th floor is empty and the 22nd floor, the 30,000-square-foot top floor at the building, is also vacant. RXR is in the process of dividing the penthouse space into three units, two of which will be prebuilt spaces. The third is being left unfinished to offer potential takers the option of a more customized build out. Rents for that floor are in the upper $70s per square foot.

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