Newmark’s “Dividing the Charities” deal up for REBNY award

"By removing 4,000 sf we were able to add 27,000": Geoffrey Newman

287 Park Avenue South, Geoffrey Newman (top) and Mark Weiss
287 Park Avenue South, Geoffrey Newman (top) and Mark Weiss

When the United Charities Corporation decided to put its Park Avenue South home on the market about a year ago – a deal that eventually closed at $128 million – there was one significant catch.

The 1893 landmarked building straddled two zoning districts, which left one half of the property overbuilt.

As it appeared to potential buyers, trying to expand the building at 287 Park Avenue South would be like struggling in quicksand: additional FAR purchased would essentially be sucked up bringing the overbuilt part of the property into compliance.

That’s what prompted listing broker Geoffrey Newman and his Newmark Grubb Knight Frank colleague Mark Weiss to MacGyver a solution that earned the brokers a nomination for the Real Estate Board of New York’s “Ingenious Deal” award.

[Related: Check out “’Divine Intervention’ makes for award-worthy transaction,”  and “Singer & Bassuk’s ‘Financing Odyssey‘ makes for epic deal,” two other stories in this series.]

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By removing several floors from the interior part of the building that was overdeveloped, Newman realized, a buyer could bring the entire building into compliance, freeing the way to add bonus square footage from inclusionary housing certificates the NGKF team identified in the area.

“The idea was, that by removing 4,000 square feet we were able to add 27,000 square feet onto the building,” he told The Real Deal. “That was really the basis of what differentiated our approach to other ways of selling the building.”

Chinese developer Cheerland Investments bought the building for $128 million, and plans to convert it into residential condos. Newman and Weiss also represented The Community Service Society, one of Three Nonprofits That Owned The Park Avenue South property through the United Charities, in finding a new home with the purchase of a 45,000-square-foot office condo on Third Avenue.

Newman and Weiss are one of 19 teams nominated for the Ingenious award.  They were assisted on their deal, entitled “Dividing the Charities:  The Sale of the United Charities Building at 287 Park Avenue South,” by NGKF colleagues James Kuhn, Jennifer Schwartzman and David Noonan.