An ambitious plan to renovate 1700 Broadway and construct pre-built units in the roughly 630,000-square-foot office building has produced a string of leases at the property over the past year.
In a conversation with The Commercial Observer this afternoon, Jonathan Brundige, an executive at the Ruben Companies, the building’s landlord, and Peter Shimkin, a leasing broker at Newmark (NMRK) Knight Frank who handles deals at the property, estimate that about 115,000 square feet of space has been leased there over the past 10 months.
The landlord and the NKF team just leased the 42-story building’s 13,500-square-foot 41st floor to the law firm Scarola, Malone & Zubatov LLP. Asking rents for the space were $68 per square foot.
UBIFRANCE, the French trade office, also signed on for the building’s 13,500-square-foot 30th floor, which also has asking rents in the $60s per square foot, thought slightly less than the 41st floor.
Excel Sports Management signed on for a roughly 9,000-square-foot unit on the 29th floor and Feingold & Alpert, Frank Magid & Associates, another law firm, took 9,700 square feet on 28. The real estate investment and development firm the Naftali Group did a deal for 4,500 square feet on 16.
Mr. Brundige and Mr. Shimkin said the pre-built units have been an especially popular offering and have seeded further dealmaking in the building, especially transactions in which the landlord agreed to build custom offices for the tenant.
About 45,000 square feet of the recent activity was for pre-built units or floors that the landlord would build-to-suit.
“Tenants would come into one of our pre-built units and see what we could do,” Mr. Shimkin said. “And maybe they needed more space and so we’d work out a deal for them to take a full floor that we would then build to that standard.”
Mr. Brundige said the Ruben Companies had spent time scouring the market to see how other landlords delivered space so that the company could create office units that offered a higher level installation.
“One of the hallmarks has been the use of floor to ceiling glass in the spaces which allows the natural light from outside into much of the spaces,” Mr. Brundige said. “We use specialty lighting and ceiling tiles and create high end pantries, we really try to take it up a notch.”
Mr. Brundige said about 88 percent of the building is now leased and Mr. Shimkin and the NKF team are focused on a few remaining spaces at the property. The 36th and 37th floors remain available and there is a handful of pre-built spaces left on floors that were converted over for those installations; 5,200 square feet on 20, 5,100 square feet on 16 and 4,300 square feet on 29. Each of the building’s floors is about 13,500 square feet in total.
Last year the Ruben Companies hired the NKF team, which besides Mr. Shimkin includes NKF’s New York area president David Falk and broker Daniel Levine, after it realized it was going to be facing a significant block of vacancy at 1700 Broadway. The Hearst Corporation, a former large tenant in the property, was vacating about 80,000 square feet.
In addition to investing in the pre-built units, the Ruben Companies also renovated the building’s lobby and outside plaza area.
“Everything was done with the knowledge that Hearst was vacating the building,” Mr. Shimkin said. “We knew this was happening so we got out in front of it and did what we needed to do to draw new tenants.”