If an office building can look and feel like it’s in Midtown South even if it isn’t, can’t it benefit from the leasing boom that has overtaken that market?
That was the premise underscoring 104 West 40th Street’s recent deal with the company Vox Media.
The building’s leasing agents, Paul Amrich and Neil King, who are both executives at CBRE, recommended that the property’s landlord, Savanna, skip the carpeting and the drop ceilings that are typical to Midtown office installations. The striped down aesthetic they created instead gave the property a loft-like ambiance akin to Midtown South and convinced Vox to take the building’s entire ninth floor and part of eight in a deal totaling 16,884 square feet.
“The space had exposed ceilings and polished concrete floors,” Mr. Amrich said. “Vox initially was looking only Midtown South but when they saw the space we had they realized it was exactly what they were looking for.”
The deal underscores how landlords in Midtown are looking to tap into the popularity of Midtown South, which has commanded an outsize share of leasing activity as creative and technology firms have sought out space in the area.
“They building is very close to Bryant Park, which is an amenity,” Mr. King said. “The feeling of the lobby. There is a large mural, it has a very Mad Men type feel, very boutique and they liked that a lot.”
Mr. Amrich, a vice chairman at CBRE who has built an impressive portfolio of agency assignments in boutique buildings such as 510 Madison Avenue, said he tried the strategy because he felt 104 West 40th Street is within proximity of Midtown South and hence could attract tenants who had become discouraged in that district by its high rents and scant availabilities.
“As you get north of 42nd Street I think you get a north/south barrier and the tenants that really wanted to be in Midtown South will be reluctant to cross it,” Mr. Amrich said. “But generally we think of Midtown South these days as anything south of 34th Street and so at 40th Street, we’re only a few blocks outside of that and so it’s not a big step for a tenant.”
Mr. Amrich and Mr. King said that another draw for Vox was the higher level of building services.
“A lot of buildings in Midtown South provide a doorman from eight in the morning to six and anytime after that it’s key card entry,” Mr. Amrich explained. “In Midtown, it’s standard to have a 24/7 attendant.”
Leases at 104 West 40th Street, as in most buildings in Midtown, also come with cleaning services built into the package of amenities the tenant receives, whereas in Midtown South it is common for tenants to have to pay extra for cleaning.
The building’s fifth, sixth and seventh floors are vacant, Mr. Amrich said, who added that “we already have proposals on the balance of the eighth floor.”
Mr. Amrich and Mr. King are hoping to repeat the success of 104 West 40th Street at another building the pair are representing as well, 1370 Broadway, a building on 35th Street where they have three floors available totaling about 50,000 square feet.
“We’re creating a marketing center on one of the floors that will feature an installation with a similar Midtown South-inspired feel,” Mr. Amrich explained. “I think we’re going to keep attracting tenants from the neighborhood.”