The Real Deal New York

Heartland Group inks lease at former NYT building

January 26, 2012 06:30PM
By Adam Pincus

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229 West 43rd Street

Restaurant company Heartland Group is expanding its presence in the Times Square neighborhood, after signing a nearly 16,000-square-foot lease at the former New York Times Building at 229 West 43rd Street, city property records show.

The Midtown-based company, which operates two large restaurants under the Heartland Brewery and HB Burger names only a block away, signed the new lease Dec. 1 with Africa Israel USA, which owns the retail condominium at the Times Square Building, the records say.Heartland is taking 5,950 square feet on the ground floor on the 44th Street side of the building that has 40 feet of frontage, and 9,720 square feet on the lower level, city property records published yesterday show. The company owns seven Manhattan locations with its craft-brewed beer and comfort food, including a multi-level restaurant in the Empire State Building and two locations at 127 West 43rd Street.

The New York Post reported in December that an unidentified celebrity chef was going to open a restaurant at the location, but did not identify Heartland as the restaurant group involved.

The document filed with the city was not a lease, but a so-called non-disturbance agreement, which protects Heartland’s lease even if Africa Israel were to lose the property in a foreclosure, or another similar situation.

The property records indicate the retail-focused brokerage Robert K. Futterman & Associates represented the landlord in the deal, but that firm and Heartland did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Africa Israel declined to comment.

Heartland will join a diverse group of tenants in the 246,531-square-foot retail condo. Other retail tenants include bowling lanes Bowlmor, theme restaurant Jekyll & Hyde, discount apparel retailer Daffy’s and historical exhibition space, Discovery Times Square.

Blackstone Group’s affiliate Equity Office bought the 371,017-square-foot office portion of the building last July for $160 million.

Robin Abrams, an executive vice president at retail brokerage Lansco, who was not involved in the Heartland transaction, said the owner has maximized the higher value of the ground-floor space by allowing five tenants to have a presence there, as well as above or below.

“[Africa Israel] divided the ground floor into smaller units which each in effect serves as an entryway,” Abrams said. “It allows [tenants] to take a big space at an economical rent.”

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