How Georgetown Is Transforming 787 11th Avenue From Auto Shops to Office Space


As the once-gritty Far West Side shifts from auto shops to luxury development, one developer has managed to marry both car dealerships and tony finance tenants with the renovation of a former Packard car showroom designed by Albert Kahn at 787 11th Avenue.

After Georgetown Company and Bill Ackman’s Pershing Square Capital Management purchased the property between West 54th and West 55th Streets for $255.5 million in 2015, Georgetown began renovating and remassing the eight-story building to convert the upper floors from auto repair shops to high-end offices. Basketball superstar LeBron James and action-star-turned-politician Arnold Schwarzenegger invested in the building earlier this year, according to The New York Post.

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Starchitect Rafael Viñoly is handling the design of the exterior and the common areas, including an “industrial chic” lobby with long, black wood desks, dark metal benches black aluminum walls and polished concrete floors. The large, Art Deco windows have been expanded vertically and filled with new, operable glass ones, and the 280,000-square-foot building has gotten all new elevators and utilities.

The seventh floor has been demolished to create a double-height sixth floor with the original “mushroom cap” cylindrical columns stretching from 23 feet from floor to ceiling. The developers then used that demolished floor area to add two extra stories to the top of the building, constructing a glass penthouse that has since been leased to two investment firms. One tenant, Dwight Capital, has already set up shop in its 20,000-square-foot space designed by Gensler on the 10th floor. Hedge fund Pershing Square Capital Management will move into 67,000 square feet on the ninth and 10th floors of its building early next year.

The double-height floor has a unique industrial vibe that won’t appeal to a traditional office tenant, said Jonathan Schermin, a managing principal at Georgetown. “A law firm wouldn’t be appropriate space like this; an investment bank likely isn’t taking space like this,” he added. “There’s this great column spacing that allows for really flexible layouts.”

The first five floors hold dealerships and repair shops for Jaguar and Land Rover. Georgetown and Pershing took over as owners of the dealerships after the previous owner went bankrupt. The dealerships are just two of several along 11th Avenue’s auto shop row, where Mercedes, Audi, Porsche and BMW also have car showrooms.

In addition, the building will have a shared, landscaped roof deck with a tennis court and attractive views of the Hudson River and the several nearby new developments in Hell’s Kitchen. A CBRE (CBRE) team of Mary Ann Tighe, Evan Haskell, Ross Zimbalist, Arkady Smolyansky and Benjamin Joseph has leased 70 percent of the building, and the owners expect to finalize leases that will bring the property up to 90 percent rented this fall.