AXA tower: a good comp at $611 per sf?

By Adam Pincus | June 25, 2009 04:16PM

With few comparable building sales to price Midtown trophy properties, an appraisal of the 1.8 million-square-foot 787 Seventh Avenue at $611 per square foot provides the market with one more data point.

Or does it?

AXA Equitable Life Insurance filed a deed with the city June 17 valuing the 51-story office tower it owns on Seventh Avenue between 51st and 52nd streets at $1.1 billion, or about $611 per square foot, property records posted yesterday show.

A spokesperson for AXA Equitable said the company contracted an appraisal of the fully leased office tower within the second quarter of 2009 by an unidentified third-party firm, but would not comment further.

The deed did not represent a sale, but only a transfer from one AXA Equitable entity to another, the city records show.

Experts said the valuation of $611 per foot seemed a little high because nothing has sold in that price range recently. 1540 Broadway sold for about $392 per foot in March, and Worldwide Plaza at 825 Eighth Avenue was in contract reportedly in the mid-$300s per square foot. American International Group sold 70 Pine Street for about $100 per square foot.

And this deed transfer was not viewed as a real “comp” anyway because it was not a sale, said John Cicero, managing principal at commercial appraisal firm Miller Cicero.

“Real data points are from closed transactions. The AIG sale, and Worldwide Plaza, which was almost a sale — those are the real data points you want to look to,” he said.