Leases  ·  Retail

National Museum of Mathematics Temporarily Moves to 225 Fifth Avenue

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New York’s National Museum of Mathematics (MoMath) packed up its famed square-wheeled tricycle and rolled over to a temporary new home on Fifth Avenue.

The museum signed a short-term lease for 27,158 square feet on the ground floor and lower-level retail space at 225 Fifth Avenue in the Flatiron District, according to tenant broker Open Impact Real Estate.

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A source with knowledge of the deal said MoMath will stay put for at least a year, with the option to extend for an additional year. After that, MoMath will head to a permanent 35,000-square-foot space on Avenue of the Americas in Midtown, the source said.

The asking rent was not disclosed, but average asking retail rent on Fifth Avenue in Flatiron was $419 per square foot in the fourth quarter of 2023, according to a report by CBRE

The moves mean NoMath will add plenty of extra floor space for new exhibits, which the museum has already begun to unbox at the Fifth Avenue location.

“They have plans to more than double in size with new exhibits, and that’s really exciting for the city,” said Open Impact’s Stephen Powers, who arranged the deal for MoMath with Lindsay Ornstein, Jake Cinti and Julia Fish. “Their mission is to make math fun and make the impossible possible.”

Hedge fund math guru-turned-professor Glen Whitney raised $22 million to launch the museum in 2012. It has since occupied 19,000 square feet at 11 East 26th Street, one door down from its new pop-up space across from Madison Square Park

The museum specializes in interactive exhibits, including one that involves a pair of beavers that race around on train tracks without ever crashing into each other, thanks to a series of knobs and switches, according to Powers. In another exhibit, a tricycle with square wheels easily circles around a surface made of rounded cylinders.  

Newmark (NMRK)’s Peter Whitenack represented landlord CIM Group, which owns the retail portion of the landmarked condominium building at 225 Fifth Avenue, also known as The Grand Madison.

The space was previously occupied by 24 Hour Fitness, Whitenack said.

“Relocating the museum from next door to a better location that allows them a bigger presence will be beneficial for them as they work through their longer-term plan elsewhere,” Whitenack said. “It’s great to activate the space and show what can be done with it.”

Whitenack said it’s lately become hard to find retail space in Flatiron since the neighborhood “bottomed out during the pandemic,” but has almost fully recovered.

Abigail Nehring can be reached at anehring@commercialobserver.com.