Vornado, Banca di Roma sell a combined $60 million in properties

From left: Lipa Lieberman, 34-36 East 51st Street, Eric Anton and 211-219 Columbus Avenue

Two Manhattan properties traded recently for a combined $60 million, one sold by real estate investment trust Vornado Realty Trust and the other by Italian bank UniCredit.

In the first transfer, an unidentified Asian buyer paid $30 million for Vornado’s Upper West Side retail store partially occupied by clothing retailer Club Monaco, according to a person with knowledge of the deal.

Vornado, the New Jersey-based real estate investment trust, sold 211-219 Columbus Avenue, a 6,000-square-foot, one-story building on Dec. 31, the source said.

Eric Anton, an executive managing director at Eastern Consolidated who represented both sides of the transaction, declined to comment. The sale has not yet appeared in city records.

The site between 69th and 70th streets has a total of 42,511 square feet of development rights, PropertyShark.com shows, equating to a price of $706 per square foot.

Vornado spent a total of $26.6 million to acquire the property in 2005 and redevelop it, the company’s most recent annual report says. Club Monaco signed a 10-year lease in 2007, city property records show. NK Apothecary occupies a smaller portion of the ground floor, and they each occupy some of the cellar space.

The tenants paid on average $281 per square foot to lease the ground-floor space, according to Vornado’s 2009 annual report.

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Vornado could not immediately be reached for comment.

Meanwhile in Midtown, another Eastern Consolidated broker sold a building.
The buyer, who also was not disclosed, purchased the Banca di Roma building at 34-36 East 51st Street between Park and Madison avenues, for $30 million, a source with knowledge of the deal said.

The buyer, Pref 34 East 51st Street LLC, closed on the purchase from Italian lender UniCredit, on Jan. 18. UniCredit took ownership of the building after buying Banca di Roma, which purchased the property in 1993 for $11.9 million. The recent property sale has not yet appeared in city records, and UniCredit did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The 10-story, 38,000-square-foot building is vacant except for Chinese restaurant Tse Yang, which has leased the ground-floor retail space since 1981. Its lease expires at the end of this year, owner Lawrence Lo said. He had not decided if it would remain in the same location or not.

Lipa Lieberman, a director with Eastern Consolidated, represented the buyer and seller. He confirmed the sale but declined to comment on the transaction.

Commercial brokers Edward Midgley, Timothy Sheehan and Michael Monahan of CB Richard Ellis began marketing the building in 2008 with an expectation it would sell for $40 million. But the market froze and no deal was finalized. After their exclusive expired in 2009, Midgley and Sheehan remained advisors to the bank on a nonexclusive basis, they said.

Banca di Roma’s move to Midtown in the 1990s was part of a trend at the time of financial firms abandoning Downtown, where it had leased space at 100 Wall Street for years.