Chetrit, Cornell swap West 34th Street properties with Cohen

Separate, ground-up retail projects slated for both sites

From left: 245-247 West 34th Street and 261-263 West 34th Street in Chelsea (inset: Joseph Chetrit)
From left: 245-247 West 34th Street and 261-263 West 34th Street in Chelsea (inset: Joseph Chetrit)

Joseph Chetrit’s Chetrit Group and Shifra Hager’s Cornell Realty Management, which have been assembling properties on West 34th Street for over a year, swapped one of those properties for another pair of buildings owned by Gravesend-based investor Charles D. Cohen.

The two purchases would make way for separate retail projects on the strip, sources told The Real Deal.

Cohen closed last month on the purchase of a pair of one-story retail buildings at 245-247 West 34th Street in Chelsea from Chetrit and Cornell, sources familiar with the deal said. Just last year, Chetrit and Cornell bought them for $31.5 million and proceeded to file plans for a 17-story, 45,000-square-foot hotel-and-retail project at the site. Those plans are in the process of being rejiggered.

In exchange for the two buildings, Chetrit and Cornell agreed in March to buy a three-story retail building at 261-263 West 34th Street, which Cohen has owned since 1983, for an undisclosed amount. The building is the former home of Bag Man, a bargain handbag shop long operated by Cohen. The store shuttered in January 2015 with no plans to relocate anywhere else in Manhattan, sources said.

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Both parties are now planning to build pure-play retail properties on their respective sites, sources said, with construction kicking off sometime in 2016. Both deals are similarly priced, with Cohen set to take home the difference.

RKF’s Zach Mishaan represented Cohen, while Cushman & Wakefield’s Diana Boutross represented Chetrit and Cornell Realty in the swap. Mishaan and Boutross, who declined to comment, both left Winick Realty Group earlier this month.

Chetrit and Cornell own several other low-rise Retail Properties On 34th Street. They recently bought the three-story Wendy’s outpost at 259 West 34th Street, next to the Bag Man building, for $20.5 million, as TRD reported.

They also paid $41 million for 251 and 253 West 34th Street in July 2014, and an additional $20 million for 255 West 34th Street, in September 2014.

To complete the assemblage, the partners appear to Only Need 257 West 34th Street and 249 West 34th Street, which have both belonged to their current owners since the 1990s.