Sales Beat

The Fine Arts Building in Midtown East Sells for $34 M.

Members of the Battaglia family have sold The Fine Arts Building located at 232-236 East 59th Street for $34 million, the first sale of the building since the local investors purchased the building in the 1950’s, The Commercial Observer has learned.

The six-and-half-story building, located on the south side of 59th Street and between Second and Third avenues in Midtown East, features 75 feet of frontage along East 59th Street.

Its 47,000 square feet of loft showrooms are home to a number of prestigious European and American firms representing the luxury home furnishing and interior design industries, said Marcus & Millichap’s Kailin Zhu, who exclusively represented the seller, 232 Battaglia Realty LLC, with Tanya Siegel.

“The building is in the heart of the Design District where these industries still have a very strong presence,” Ms. Zhu said, adding that it’s very close to its “famous neighbor,” the Decoration & Design Building located around the corner at 979 Third Avenue.

The-Fine-Arts-Building_smThe cast iron building is ideal for showrooms, as the loft spaces are absent of weight-bearing walls and supported by two columns, which are cast iron through the third floor and wooden on upper levels, she said.

The Fine Arts Building was built in 1908 as a carriage house to Bloomingdale’s flagship store a block away.  The Battaglia family purchased the building in 1950 from heirs to the Bloomingdale estate and reserved the property – including the 12,000 square feet of retail space on the ground and lower levels – for the high-end furnishing and interior design industries.

“The Battaglia family… has been diligently upgrading it throughout the years to incorporate modern conveniences while maintaining its historic and architectural charm,” said Howard Morrel, a senior vice president at Brown Harris Stevens who referred the buyer to Marcus & Millichap, in a statement.

While the showrooms will likely remain as such, sources said the buyer, a foreign investment fund, could open up the lower retail space to other industries.

The deal was negotiated in an all-cash transaction that closed two weeks after contract signing, according to Marcus & Millichap brokers.

The nearby Decoration & Design Building is home to more than 130 of the design industry showrooms for fabrics, furniture, antiques and art.

Follow Al Barbarino on Twitter or via RSS. abarbarino@observer.com