The Met is having serious financial troubles. Here’s the potential real estate impact

Institution could sell outgoing director's luxury apartment, scale back expansion, and ditch the Met Breuer

TRD New York /
Jan.January 05, 2018 08:00 AM

993 Fifth Avenue, Daniel Weiss and the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Credit: CityRealty and the Met)

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is considering selling its executive apartment at 993 Fifth Avenue, as part of a larger — and controversial — effort to address the institution’s ailing finances.

Until this week, the second floor unit of the white-glove, 17-floor co-op was occupied by the museum’s outgoing director, Thomas Campbell, who actually resigned 11 months ago, the New York Times reported. Campbell has not yet been replaced, and the search for a new director is expected to last until June.

The possible sale is one measure among many that the institution has reviewed or implemented, as it faces cutbacks in public funds and a $10 million deficit. The museum will change its 50-year policy to keep admission free, requiring a mandatory $25 fee from people who live outside New York State.

Under the current admissions policy, the Met takes in about $43 million a year, or roughly 14 percent of its $305 million operating budget. The new admissions policy is expected to increase that to $49 million — between $6 million to $11 million a year in admissions revenue (quite a bit less than the much-loathed $65 million fountains donated by David Koch). The policy was approved by the city, which owns the Met building and provides the institution with $26 million in annual funding.

It’s unclear just how much the sale of the executive apartment would contribute. The most recent sale in the building, a four-bedroom on the fifth floor, went for $8.3 million in May 2017. Two other units in the building that are currently for sale are higher up; a seventh-floor unit is asking $17.5 million, and a full-floor unit on the 12th floor is asking $25 million, down from $28 million in 2016.

The museum is reviewing another real estate asset as well. The Met Breuer, a satellite location dedicated to modern and contemporary art, is housed in the former Whitney Museum. Daniel Weiss, the Met’s president, told the Times that the museum had not yet resolved what to do when the eight-year lease — which costs $17 million a year — expires a few years from now.

The museum is also revising earlier plans for a $600 million renovation of the Met’s southwest wing, which had been delayed due to budget concerns. Weiss told the Times that they were speaking with the original architects, David Chipperfield and Beyer Blinder Belle, about a design that could cost $150 million less than the original. [NYT]Chava Gourarie

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