Verizon puts West 36th St. building on market as hotel site

Telephone company has netted nearly $1.5B from Manhattan real estate holdings

New facade at the Walker Tower at 212 West 18th Street
New facade at the Walker Tower at 212 West 18th Street

Verizon is marketing a former telephone-exchange building on West 36th Street near Seventh Avenue as a potential hotel site, a continuation of the push by the communications giant to cash in on its prime Manhattan real estate. Indeed, since 2005, parts or all of 14 properties in the borough have been sold or are in contract.

The transactions represent nearly $1.5 billion in sales, according to property records seen by the Wall Street Journal. A Verizon executive in the company’s real estate department told the newspaper that the sales weren’t prompted by a need to raise capital or cash, but rather were “opportunistic” moves in a robust investment sales market and a chance “to leverage these great buildings in New York City.”

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Savvy developers have been able to capitalize on these sales. In 2009, a partnership between JDS Development Group and Property Markets Group paid Verizon $25 million for the top 15 floors of 212 West 18th Street. Now known as the Walker Tower, the building has a single penthouse in contract for at least $50 million. And at the 18-story 425 West 50th Street, also known as the “Stella,” the same developers will build condominiums ranging from $2 million to $10 million for a space that they bought from Verizon in 2011 for just north of $20 million.

And in September of this year, Ben Shaoul’s Magnum Real Estate Group picked up the top 21 floors of the Verizon headquarters at 140 West Street for $274 million, outbidding JDS and PMG, according to the newspaper. Magnum will convert the space into luxury condos. [WSJ]Hiten Samtani