The Real Deal New York

Atlas buys Theater District office building for $62M

January 29, 2013 01:15PM
By Zachary Kussin

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Peter Hauspurg and 311 West 43rd Street

Atlas Capital Group has paid $62.4 million for a 185,000-square-foot office building home to several theater and design firms, public records show, and apparently plans to reposition the property to appeal to more traditional office tenants. The acquisition of the building, located at 311 West 43rd Street between Eighth and Ninth avenues, helped close an eventful year for the real estate investment firm.

The seller of the 14-story office building, listed as Juniper I LLC in property records, is linked to Zuberry Associates, a development firm managed by Dick Berry and partner Tony Zunino. The New York Post reported this month that the building is named the Media Arts building.

Zuberry closed on the building in 1982, though the sale price was not available in public records, and Berry said he did not remember how much he paid for the property. “We did good,” he said. “We put so much money into it so quickly that I’ve really lost track. It’s a long time, too.”

Berry said that the building, now fully occupied, was a third occupied at the time of the purchase. He said he converted it from a vacant “dump” into a building hosting theater-related groups and other creative types. “We kept it funky,” he said.

Current tenants include the Mint Theater Company’s theater space, the administrative offices of Manhattan Theatre Club and the architectural firm Cooper, Robertson & Partners, which has grown its presence there from 2,500 square feet to 30,000 square feet, Berry said. Hakkasan, a Chinese eatery, is located on the ground floor. Rents in the property span from the $20s to low $40s per square foot, with larger spaces on the less expensive end.

However, rents in the area are higher now and the building could use some upgrades, Berry said. “It’ll require a new tenancy and we didn’t want to do that,” Berry said. “We like these people — we kept it this way because they could afford it.”

Atlas may invest in infrastructure improvements, bringing the Class B office space to Class A, according to a release from Eastern Consolidated, whose brokers arranged the deal. However, the firm is also considering a partial or full residential conversion when leases expire, the release said.

Eastern Consolidated Chairman and CEO Peter Hauspurg, along with Eastern Consolidated’s Brian Ezratty and Scott Ellard, represented the seller, as the New York Post first reported. Ezratty also brought in Atlas.

“We had to act quickly, since the buyer was obliged to close the transaction by year end within 45 days,” Ezratty said in the statement.

Zuberry will remain in the property for 10 years as a tenant. “We’re going to see what that’s like,” Berry said.

Atlas purchased the Eastgate Tower Hotel at 224 East 39th Street for $69 million and plans to convert the 147,000-square-foot building into a luxury rental with 190 units, as The Real Deal reported. In addition, last January, the firm partnered with GreenOak to purchase the defaulted note on an office building located at 218 West 18th Street, which was previously owned by developer Harry Jeremias.

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