APF Properties Signs Penthouse Deal Despite Stagnant Midtown

CrewCuts, a post production company that handles work for film and television, has renewed a nearly 18,000-square-foot lease at 28 West 44th Street, APF Properties, the owner of the roughly 370,000-square-foot building has revealed to The Commercial Observer.

The deal, which was arranged by a Cushman & Wakefield agency team led by C&W executive David Rosenbloom, stretches for 10-years. Asking rents for the space, a duplex penthouse at the top of the 22-story tower were in the mid $60s according to Ken Aschendorf, a principal at APF who oversees the company’s portfolio of commercial properties in Midtown.

28 west 44th street APF Properties Signs Penthouse Deal Despite Stagnant Midtown

28 West 44th Street

Though leasing has tapered off, particularly in Midtown according to recently released statistics by several major services firms in the city, Mr. Aschendorf said the space at 28 West 44th Street commanded a premium because of its views and unique amenities such as 17-foot ceiling heights, an outdoor terrace area and a private elevator servicing the space.

“It’s a very special space,” Mr. Aschendorf said, noting that other tenants had expressed interest in the floor, 21 and 22, in the event CrewCuts decided not to renew. CrewCuts, which does sound work, graphics and editing for film production, renewed its lease last December for a year-long interval before committing to the current long term deal, creating questions for a time whether it would decide to stay and prompting APF to show the space other prospective takers.

APF, a company named after its three founders, Mr. Aschendord, Berndt Perl and Robert Faktor, acquired 28 West 44th Street in partnership with the financial firm Prudential last year from SL Green for $161 million. The company is investing millions of dollars updating the property, which it has renamed the Club Row Building. Mr. Aschendorf told The CO that APF would soon begin a lobby renovation and install new elevator cabs and mechanicals, work that he said is expected to cost more than $10 million.

The improvement project shows how the company is doubling down on its investment in the building at a time when leasing in Midtown has fallen and rents have stagnated. Data released earlier this week by C&W shows that leasing activity fell in Midtown during the first three quarters of the year nearly 36 percent from the same period last year and was also below historical norms for the neighborhood.

“We’re making improvements and it has helped us maintain a very low vacancy level in our properties,” Mr. Aschendorf said.

In addition to 28 West 44th Street, APF owns other buildings in the area, including 1156 Avenue of the Americas, 25 West 45th Street, 24 West 57th Street and 286 Madison Avenue. Mr. Aschendorf described those four properties as either full or nearly full. One of the leading spaces the company is currently working on is, incidentally, very similar to the space it just renewed at 28 West 44th Street – a favorable assignment to have given the success keeping 28 West 44th Streets top floors full. The company has about 12,500 square feet available on the top two floors of 24 West 57th Street. The duplex penthouse has many of the same attributes as CrewCuts’s space, including tall 14-foot ceilings, an outdoor terrace and a private elevator.

“It’s very similar in the sense that it’s dramatic with tall ceilings, a 50 foot wide terrace, a grand interior staircase and beautiful antique wood plank flooring throughout,” Mr. Aschendorf said. “It’s magnificent.”

Mr. Aschendorf said he is looking for rents in the mid $60s for that space.

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