Tribeca Film Festival HQ trades in $56M deal

New owner to reposition building as luxury condos: sources
By Katherine Clarke | January 10, 2013 04:00PM

The iconic headquarters of the Tribeca Film Festival, an 80,000-square-foot building known for its wraparound film festival signage, has traded for $56 million, The Real Deal has learned. Its buyer, an LLC registered to James Bishop, of Florida-based investment advisory firm Whitestar Advisors, hopes to expand and repurpose the property as luxury condominiums, sources said.

The six-story mixed-use property at 13-17 Laight Street came on the market late last year with an asking price of $60 million. It was marketed co-exclusively by Eastern Consolidated’s Roberto Ortiz and DY Realty Services’ Aaron Grumet. Ortiz and colleague Alan Miller also represented the buyer.

Some of the commercial leases at the building were negotiated during a downturn in the market, Grumet said. As those leases come up for renewal and tenants move out, the building could be repositioned. Available air rights may allow for additional apartments to be constructed atop the property.

The existing building would not need to be demolished in order to develop the site, Grumet said. Rather, the site could be redeveloped in the same manner as the neighboring 1 York Street, a 40-unit condo development which spliced a modern glass tower onto a revamped building from the 1850s.

“They may even cut out some of the existing structure and transfer it up above,” Grumet said.

The seller, Mazda Realty Associates, was eager to unload the building before year-end to avoid hikes in capital gains tax rates, he said. The deal closed December 27.

The elevator building has three retail tenants on the ground floor, one of which is Tribeca Cinemas, and 22 mixed-use tenants above. Nine of the upper-floor units are residential, with one rent-stabilized tenant among them. Vera Wang president Mario Grauso lives in the building, paying $17,500 a month, according to marketing materials. The building’s total revenue from rent is listed as around $3.2 million.

Miller declined to comment on the deal, while Ortiz was not immediately available for comment. A call to Whitestar was not immediately returned.