Thor to buy 57th Street retail across from future Nordstrom

No price given, but another investor signed $65M purchase agreement in a failed deal in 2013

New York /
Jun.June 08, 2014 08:27 PM

The retail-focused Midtown investment firm Thor Equities is in contract to buy a four-story retail building across the street from Extell Development’s 1,550-foot tall skyscraper that is set to be home to the city’s first Nordstom on a rapidly transforming stretch of 57th Street.

Thor, headed by CEO Joe Sitt, signed an agreement to purchase 218-220 West 57th Street, a 21,837-square-foot landmarked building located between Broadway and Seventh Avenue, the firm told The Real Deal.

A spokesperson for the company did not provide the contract price. However, last year another investor inked a contract to buy the property for $65 million in a deal that fell through. The building, occupied by a Lee’s Art Shop, is owned by David Steinberg and Jill Isaacs, the children of Gilbert Steinberg, Lee’s late owner who died in 2008.

“It’s A Smart Buy On A Street that is undervalued for retail,” Joanne Podell, a vice chairman at the brokerage Cushman & Wakefield, said. She was not involved in the transaction. While The Street is far from a retail destination now, some insiders expect the surging condo development including Extell at 217 West 57th Street, Vornado Realty Trust at 220 Central Park South and JDS Development and Property Markets Group at 111 West 57th Streetwill drive store values up.

Although Sitt declined to comment on the price he said he expected retail to Grow On The Street.

“With a series of luxury condos and hotels joining an already robust commercial market and landmarks like Carnegie Hall, West 57th is primed to become one of the hottest streets on the entire island of Manhattan,” Sitt said in a statement to TRD.

Calls to the store Lee’s and the seller’s attorney were not immediately returned.

The city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission designated the building, which is known as the Society House of the American Society of Civil Engineers, as a landmark in 2008. It was completed in 1897.

The building owners struggled over the last year to finalize a sale of the property.

A company called Safka Holdings, led by Joseph Safdieh, signed a contract on May 6, 2013, to buy the building for $65 million, but never consummated the transaction, which required making a $5 million deposit. However, Safka claimed in a lawsuit filed in New York State Supreme  Court in July 2013, that it was the sellers who had breached the terms of the agreement. However, a judge sided with the building owners last month, and threw out the suit, court records show.

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