RFR pitches Fifth Avenue office building as “build-to-suit” corporate HQ

Aby Rosen’s firm bought retail portion of office building

Aby Rosen and 522 Fifth Avenue (Getty, Google Maps)
Aby Rosen and 522 Fifth Avenue (Getty, Google Maps)

Aby Rosen is betting big on Manhattan’s office market.

Rosen’s RFR Holding is in contract to buy the retail portion of 522 Fifth Avenue, Commercial Observer reported. That follows its acquisition last fall of the office portion of the property from Morgan Stanley. Rosen told the publication that RFR is planning to offer the building as a “build-to-suit” headquarters for one company.

“You need a fresh space to start the new ‘story’ after the pandemic, and all the companies are rewriting their spaces in their own way,” he told the outlet.

The ground- and second-floor retail space of the building was previously owned by a joint venture that included Ashkenazy Acquisition Corporation and Deka Immobilien. Ashkenazy reportedly left the joint venture last year, and Rosen is buying the retail portion from Deka for an undisclosed amount. Ashkenazy declined to comment to the outlet.

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Morgan Stanley still occupies office floors on a master lease, but the bank could be moving out sooner than the lease’s expiration in August 2025, Rosen said.

Meanwhile, Rosen has already started marketing the building as a 612,000-square-foot corporate headquarters, with plans that include a new lobby along 44th Street and outdoor spaces on three of the building’s L-shaped setbacks. The 38,000-square-foot retail space could be turned into the office tenant’s amenities or as a way for a tenant to display its own wares, Rosen said.

“It’s nice to have the capability on the ground floor and have food and creative uses — it becomes an integrated playground with amenities,” he said. “You can create a wonderland of energy and leisure.”

[CO] — Akiko Matsuda