Vornado Scoops Ground Lease at Art Deco Gem Swiss Center


Vornado Realty Trust (VNO) has reportedly taken control of the ground lease at the landmarked 11-story Swiss Center at 608 Fifth Avenue, where the REIT is marketing 44,440 square feet of retail space across four of its floors.

Vornado took over RFR Realty’s mortgage on the property last March with an $8.5 million payment that RFR owed to another lender and signed the ground lease on the property with the family of the late Sarah Korein, which owns the land under the building, according to the New York Post.

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608 Fifth Avenue
608 Fifth Avenue

The new lease runs through April 30, 2026, according to the Post, but the annual rate of the lease could not be confirmed by press time, as Vornado deferred calls placed by The Commercial Observer to a company spokesperson who did not return calls for comment in time for publication.

Messages left with executives at RFR were also not returned.

Marketing materials from Vornado’s website confirm that the company is marketing 44,440 square feet of retail space.  Retail tenants include Minamoto Kitchoan and Lacoste, which opened what was then its largest store at the building in late 2011, adding 1,000 square feet to its existing 5,000 square feet and infusing $10 million into the renovation project.

Neighborhood draws and retailers include Saks Fifth Avenue, Rockefeller Center, American Girl, Sephora, Banana Republic, Michael Kors, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Faconnable, Ted Baker, Ann Taylor and Cole Haan.

Formerly known as the Goelet Building, the Art Deco 608 Fifth Avenue, positioned on the southwest corner at 49th Street, was built in 1931.

Designated an official city landmark in 1992, the building’s two wings with corner setbacks are articulated with two wide vertical green marble piers and joined by a taller, recessed mechanical penthouse, as described in thecityreview.com, while “the lobby spaces employ black and brown marbles in wide bands to contrast with green and silver ceilings and lustrous elevator doors and corner light grills.”

In his 2003 book “Streetscapes, Tales of Manhattan’s Significant Buildings and Landmarks,”author Christopher Gray called the building “one giant Art Moderne cigarette case of marble – dover white at the floor levels; verde antique green at the store levels; vertical stripes at the crown; and Yule Colorado golden at the door – all accented by aluminum trim.”

Update:  The Vornado spokesperson returned phone calls after this article was published.  She confirmed that the transaction occurred but declined to elaborate on further details.