Inside Metro Loft’s new design for 175 Water Street
Nathan Berman’s firm to partner with Gensler on Financial District revamp
AIG’s longtime Financial District headquarters is getting a major overhaul from a company best known for converting offices to residential properties.
Nathan Berman’s Metro Loft Management and prolific office architects Gensler unveiled plans for the 31-story office building at 175 Water Street, which AIG has occupied for more than 20 years. Its glass-and-stone exterior will be replaced with something more “sleek and modern,” according to a release, and the current ground-floor privately owned public space (POPS) will be enclosed in glass to create a new pavilion for retail.
Renovation plans include adding a gym, a conference center and a roof deck, along with an on-site cafe and a bar. The redesigned property is slated to open in 2022.
Metro Loft Management went into contract to purchase the Water Street building for $270 million in August 2019. It originally planned to convert the top half of the 684,000-square-foot tower into residential once AIG’s lease expires in 2021, but it’s unclear if that’s still on the table.
Newmark’s David Falk, Andrew Sachs and Jonathan Franzel are the leasing agents on the property.
British real estate developer Howard Ronson built 175 Water Street in 1983 and sold the tower to anchor tenant NatWest Bancorp while it was still under construction. After NatWest relocated to New Jersey in the early 1990s, the bank sold the property to AIG in 1996. AIG plans to move to the former Time-Life Building in Midtown Manhattan.
Berman, a former Ukrainian art dealer who founded Metro Loft Management in 1997, is known as “the King of FiDi,” thanks to his track record of converting office space in the neighborhood to rentals.
In 2013, Berman bought 180 Water Street, across the street from AIG’s HQ, with Vanbarton for $151 million; the partners spent $100 million converting it to a residential property.
The city approved a plan in 2016 that allowed building owners to transform the POPS that line the bases of Water Street’s towers into retail use in an effort to help perk up street life.