Building buy near Facebook-Apple battleground hints at big project

New Jersey-based investment firm acquiring leasehold for $88M: sources

320 West 31st Street and Normandy’s Travis Feehan (Credit: Google Maps, Normandy)
320 West 31st Street and Normandy’s Travis Feehan (Credit: Google Maps, Normandy)

The developer who built Netflix’s Manhattan offices is now making a play across the street from where Facebook and Apple are fighting for some of Manhattan’s choicest office space.

Normandy Real Estate Partners signed a contract to acquire the leasehold on the drab, stained-brick building at 320 West 31st Street across the street from the James A. Farley Post Office for $88 million, sources told The Real Deal.

The nearly 150,000-square-foot building is occupied by Touro College, which signed a lease at the property last year. But that lease has only about two years remaining, and once it’s up the new owner could use additional air rights that come with the property and others available on the block to redevelop it into a building as large as 240,000 square feet.

The building is across the street from the Farley Post Office, which Vornado Realty Trust and the Related Companies are converting into offices. Facebook and Apple are going head-to-head to snap up space.

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A representative for Normandy declined to comment. The seller of the leasehold, a joint-venture between New Jersey-based Onyx Equities and GMF Capital, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Onyx, led by John Saraceno and Jonathan Schultz, paid $51.5 million to acquire the property in 2017 with GMF.

The company hired a team of brokers at Eastdil Secured of Evan Layne and Brett Siegel to market the property earlier this year. Those brokers left Eastdil in late August to head up the investment sales division at Newmark Knight Frank, and a team of brokers currently at Eastdil composed of Gary Phillips, Will Silverman and Steve Binswanger negotiated the sale.

Normandy — founded in 2002 by partners Finn Wentworth, David Welsh and Jeff Gronning — has a track record of redeveloping properties into hot office space.

The company has an office portfolio of more than 30 million square feet in New York, New Jersey, Boston and Washington, D.C. Its Manhattan projects include 888 Broadway in the Flatiron District — where Netflix has its offices — and the Terminal Stores redevelopment in West Chelsea, which the company purchased last year with L&L Holding Company for $880 million.

Columbia Property Trust announced an agreement last month to acquire Normandy in a deal valued at about $100 million.