Bnai Zion Foundation, a 107-year-old nonprofit organization that does humanitarian work in America and Israel, has sold its five-story building at 136 East 39th Street to the government of Thailand for $17.5 million, Commercial Observer has learned.
The 15,000-square-foot property between Lexington and Third Avenues was the organization’s headquarters for more than 40 years. The sale closed on Dec. 23, months after Bnai Zion moved into an office rental at 1430 Broadway.
“This is another example of a not-for-profit recognizing the incredible value of monetizing real estate owned at record values and adding millions to its coffers, while moving to a rental or commercial condo which tends to be more space efficient as technologies and the need for a physical presence evolves,” David Schechtman, who represented the seller for Eastern Consolidated, and has since moved to Meridian Capital Group, said in an email to CO. Mr. Schechtman worked alongside Aaron Jungreis of Rosewood Realty Group.
Thailand’s government has purchased the East 39th Street property for its permanent mission to the United Nations. Its current UN delegation is located at 351 East 52nd Street, a building that is also owned by the government of Thailand and houses the country’s consulate general offices.
The new building “is only a few blocks from the United Nations, and location is always important,” Gil Robinov of MHP Real Estate Services, who represented the government of Thailand in the deal with colleague Andrew Arvay, said. “It’s about the size that they needed, and there was a very beautiful, large event space where they are able to have dinners and host speakers, which they want to have in the future.”
As CO previously reported, there has been a recent trend of nonprofits selling their buildings in exchange for smaller digs. Earlier this year, the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism sold its office condo at 820 Second Avenue for $16 million, opting to lease a 16,000-square-foot space at 120 Broadway. Also, SCO Family of Services sold its building at 570 Fulton Street in Downtown Brooklyn for $22.9 million and relocated to 224 Nevins Street in Boerum Hill.