Former AIG HQ at 175 Water Street Sells for $252M

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Vanbarton Group has officially sold the 31-story office tower at 175 Water Street for $252 million, Commercial Observer has learned. 

The building, which previously served as AIG’s headquarters, was purchased by 99c LLC, a real estate investment firm that specializes in prime office, hospitality and manufacturing assets. 

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99c purchased the asset in an all-cash deal, sources said, while JLL marketed the sale on behalf of Vanbarton Group. 

The firm’s plans for the Seaport District property couldn’t be confirmed, but, seeing as 175 Water Street is currently fully vacant, myriad repositioning opportunities are possible.

AIG left the building in 2021 — moving uptown to 1271 Avenue of the Americas — after occupying it as its corporate headquarters since 1996. 

“99c is tremendously excited to deliver a comprehensive reuse plan in a prominent Financial District location. The fabric of the Fox Fowle-designed building is visible from the Brooklyn waterfront and a prominent part of FiDi’s skyline,” Carlo Bellini, a co-founder of 99c, said in a statement. “When considering the challenges some commercial buildings are facing post-pandemic, we at 99c are looking for unique and sustainable ways to reinvent such spaces.”

The Real Deal reported last month that the building was under contract to Ken Dart. Sources familiar with the transaction said that the 99c entity is not linked to the Solo Cup billionaire, but rather to a “U.K.-based firm with a New York presence” that has focused on repositioning real estate assets since the global financial crisis. No further information could be gleaned at this time. 

AIG sold the property to Metro Loft for $270 million in 2019 in a sale-leaseback deal, TRD reported at the time. When the developer later defaulted on its mezzanine loan, Vanbarton Group — as mezz lender — took control of the tower. 

The property most recently underwent a renovation in 2014, and includes two rooftop terraces with views across the city and the East River. 

JLL’s capital markets investment sales advisory team led the sale of the property on behalf of Vanbarton Group, with a team led by Andrew Scandalios, David Giancola, Vickram Jambu, Marion Jones, Steven Rutman and Alexander Riguardi

“175 Water St. received a generous amount of investor interest given the nature of the building, which provided a blank canvas to reimagine and reactivate the property as a best-in-class office tower or consider alternative uses,” Scandalios said. 

“Downtown Manhattan and particularly the Seaport submarket is going through a transformative period for both office and residential uses,” Jambu added. “Between the interest in this building and the results we achieved through this process, we think this transaction signifies the strengthening of the New York City office market.”

Per JLL, the Seaport has received more than $30 billion in public and private funding in the last decade. 

Cathy Cunningham can be reached at ccunningham@commercialobserver.com.