Safra family finally begins 660 Madison’s office-to-resi conversion

Long-planned project means office tenants like Corcoran are getting the boot

660 Madison Avenue (Photo via Jenel Real Estate)
660 Madison Avenue (Photo via Jenel Real Estate)

660 Madison Avenue’s offices are emptying out, though not for the reason you might expect.

The real estate family office for J. Safra Real Estate is moving forward with plans filed five years ago to convert that portion of the property into residential and hotel units.

Affected tenants include residential brokerage the Corcoran Group, private equity firm Lexington Partners, and venture capital and private equity firms led by Edgar Bronfman Jr., Waverly Capital and Accretive. Departures appear to be happening in a staggered fashion.

JSRE declined to comment. A spokesperson for Corcoran confirmed the brokerage was planning to relocate to a similar-sized office “just blocks away” in the spring.

Lexington announced in February it signed a 15-year lease for 48,000 square feet at Boston Properties’ 399 Park Avenue and would move out by the end of 2020. Questions directed to Accretive and Waverly were not answered.

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The residential conversion of the upper portion of 660 Madison will start at the 10th floor and will also include hotel units, according to the most recent plans filed with the Department of Buildings.

The proposal now includes adding 15 floors to the 22-story building, with amenities such as bike storage and fitness center. Architect Joseph Pell Lombardi is leading the project.

The building’s lower floors are part of a retail condo owned by Ashkenazy Acquisition Corporation, and are currently occupied by Barneys New York. After the retailer filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy last year, the tenant and its landlord worked out a deal for the store to remain open until November. Ashkenazy is on the lookout for new tenants; earlier this year, the landlord was reported to be in talks with Italian food hall Eataly for some space.

As the future of office space hangs over many commercial landlords due to the pandemic, it may seem like an opportune time for a residential conversion, but the prospects for Manhattan’s luxury market are equally shaky with years’ worth of condos yet to be sold and many buildings competing for a limited pool of active buyers.

Construction has yet to begin at 660 Madison and the timeline for the project is unknown.