Spanish investor pays $1,700 per square foot in Flatiron District

By Adam Pincus | September 01, 2009 05:17PM

Developer Joseph Sitt’s Thor Equities sold an ornate, cast-iron Flatiron District commercial property at 901 Broadway for $24.6 million to a Spanish businessman who paid all cash on the deal last week, a broker on the sale said.

The 14,336-square-foot building sold for a jaw-dropping $1,715 per square foot. 

The five-story building at the corner of Broadway and 20th Street, originally the home of retailer Lord & Taylor Dry Goods Store, was built in 1867, and is fully leased except for the fifth floor, sales broker Robert Knakal, chairman of brokerage Massey Knakal Realty Services, said. He noted that the sale closed Aug. 27.

He said of the price: “It is a very positive sign for the marketplace which is in need of positive signs.”

The all-cash Spanish buyer, who Knakal said described himself as an “industrialist,” had real estate holdings in his native country but none in New York City, making him part of a trend.

“We have not seen such an influx of foreign buyers since the mid-1980s,” Knakal said.

His firm recently sold 115 West 57th Street to a Japanese investor for $5.8 million in cash, and has three more deals worth $27 million in contract, he said.

Thor Equities bought the building in 2006 for $17.375 million, city property records show. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Eldad Levy, president and CEO with Midtown-based real estate development and investment firm Centrock, said he has seen an increase in foreign money interested in making all-cash deals.

They are buying without loans with the anticipation that they profit when the credit markets strengthen in 12 months or more through selling partnerships or financing, he said. Levy was not familiar with the Broadway deal.

“Credit markets will come back, then buyers can refinance and cash out,” he said.