Office wars: Normandy, Ares considering 200K sf project in Greenwich Village

Developers would build property poised to rival Minskoff's "Death Star" at 51 Astor

797-799 Broadway in Greenwich Village and Normandy (inset: Normandy Real Estate Partners’ David Welsh)
797-799 Broadway in Greenwich Village and Normandy (inset: Normandy Real Estate Partners’ David Welsh)

The “Star Wars” franchise has two Death Stars, and one day Midtown South – on a pair of blocks not far, far away – may be able to boast the same.

Normandy Real Estate Partners and Ares Management are weighing plans to develop a boutique office building on Broadway in Greenwich Village, not far from the commercial property at 51 Astor Place that locals have dubbed the Death Star, sources told The Real Deal.

The partners would develop a 200,000-square-foot, Class A office building at 797-799 Broadway, which they bought last summer for $101 million, as TRD reported at the time.

A 138,000-square-foot Class B office building, originally constructed as a hotel in the mid-19th century, now sits on the site, and the developers would not be able to begin construction until leases expire in 2019. The tenants are a mix of medical offices and small-time retailers.

Normandy and Ares could possibly look to add to The Site With Air Rights From The Landmarked Grace Church Across The Street at 802 Broadway, said one source familiar with the project.

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Representatives for the developers declined to comment.

While the developers haven’t released any designs for the proposed building, brokers familiar with their plans have casually referred the project as “51 Astor Two,” a nod to the leading-edge office building Edward J. Minskoff Equities completed a short walk away in 2013. Sources close to the developers said the project would not resemble 51 Astor in design.

The 400,000-square-foot, Fumihiko Maki-designed building on Astor Place was nicknamed the “Death Star” for its stark black architecture. The building is not only out of character with the surrounding neighborhood architecturally, but also broke new ground by bringing Class A office space to a neighborhood that previously had none to speak of. The building’s largest tenants are IBM Watson And Asset Manager Claren Road, which signed a lease for 25,000 square feet on the top floor with an asking rent of $118 per square foot.

Just northwest of Greenwich Village, the Meatpacking District is seeing an influx of new boutique, ground-up office projects such as 860 Washington Street and 61 Ninth Avenue.

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated when the building at 797-799 Broadway was constructed.