Commercial investors may look to Worldwide Plaza as model

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From left: Worldwide Plaza, Peter Duncan

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Real estate investor Peter Duncan, who scored a deal on the 49-story Worldwide Plaza building in July, now has the chance to shape the New York commercial real estate market’s investment landscape. Duncan, who is president of George Comfort & Sons, purchased the property at 825 Eighth Avenue for $590 million, roughly a third of what Harry Macklowe paid for it in February 2007. The price means Duncan might be able to lease out the first 14 floors, which stand vacant as the second-largest empty space in the city, for as little as $30 or $40 per square foot, according to Robert Sammons, research director at Colliers ABR. Whereas Midtown office buildings have had a rough year — CB Richard Ellis Group reported that there have been no single leases in the area for more than 250,000 square feet — low prices may hasten leasing activity for the space in Duncan’s building formerly occupied by advertising firm Ogilvy & Mather. That could, in turn, encourage other investors to take on risk in buying up more New York office buildings, said Jim Frederick, also of Colliers.

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