The Real Deal New York

Show me the Monet: Transcon International negotiating for 140K sf SoBro facility

Art warehouser seeks tax exemptions in bid to purchase city-owned property

August 31, 2015 05:00PM
By Rich Bockmann

131 Walnut Avenue and Picasso's “Les Femme d'Alger”

131 Walnut Avenue and Picasso’s “Les Femme d’Alger”

One of the city’s top fine-art storage companies is looking to make itself a part of the permanent collection in the South Bronx.

Transcon International – which specializes in storing and shipping works that belong to private collectors, galleries, museums and corporations – is in negotiations to purchase the nearly 140,000 square-foot Port Morris warehouse it leases from the non-profit SoBro development firm.

SoBro leases the building at 131 Walnut Avenue from the city, which acquired the property in 1978 when it enforced a tax lien and foreclosed on the owner, Sol Goldman.

“Having ownership will secure the future of the company from increasing rents and we will be able to control our fixed overhead,” Transcon president John Mullane wrote in an application with the New York City Industrial Development Agency.

The company is asking the agency to exempt roughly $10 million worth of taxes on the project, which includes the $11-million purchase price and another $6 million in renovations.

While the Aby Rosens, Harry Macklowes and Edward Minskoffs of the world certainly own enough real estate to store their massive art collections, your run-of-the-mill collector is increasingly looking for space to store works that sometimes rival pricey real estate as an asset class.

The Picasso painting that sold for a record-setting $179 million at a Christie’s auction in May grabbed headlines, but the city’s warehousers have been bullish on the market for some time, and Transcon’s deal is the latest sign that the dizzying demand for expensive works of art is pushing the need for more storage space.

Real estate developer Steven Guttman last year opened his 280,000-square-foot warehouse in Long Island City, Uovo Fine Art Storage.

Christie’s opened a 235,000-square-foot warehouse in Red Hook in 2010, and companies like the Manhattan-based Cirkers have been inking leases in the outer boroughs in recent years.