Empire Capital strikes back, buys Midtown office with Namdar

Josh Rahmani and Ebi Khalili’s new firm nabs 830 Third Avenue from AEW Capital

830 Third Avenue with Empire Capital's Ebi Khalili and Josh Rahmani (Empire, VTS, Getty)
830 Third Avenue with Empire Capital's Ebi Khalili and Josh Rahmani (Empire, VTS, Getty)

Empire Capital and retail megalandlord Igal Namdar have teamed up again to acquire a Manhattan office building.

Empire, led by Josh Rahmani and Ebi Khalili, and Namdar bought 830 Third Avenue, a 14-story Midtown building, for $72 million from AEW Capital Management, according to sources. The partners secured a $53 million loan from Truist Bank.

The building was once the headquarters of the Girl Scouts of America. It sits at the corner of East 51st Street and Third Avenue and is 60 percent leased, according to a source. The ground floor is occupied by Cohen’s Fashion Optical and Republic Bank.

The buyers’ plans for the office property are unclear, but they will likely reposition it given its vacancies and weak market for Class B office space.

The sale was brokered by Vickram Jambu and Andrew Scandalios of JLL, and the debt was brokered by Max Herzog and Aaron Niedermayer of JLL and Elliott Kunstlinger of Meridian Capital Group.

The deal is another bold bet for Empire Capital, which is in contract to buy a 40-story tower at 1330 Sixth Avenue from RXR and Blackstone Group. Last year, Empire and Namdar acquired a Midtown property at 345 Seventh Avenue for about $107 million.

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Rahmani and Khalili, who are cousins in their late 30s, are on a buying spree in Manhattan. The pair got their start in the brokerage business and founded Venture Capital Properties. They mostly dabbled in smaller retail properties, then burst on the scene with their deal for 1330 Sixth Avenue, a building that Harry Macklowe paid close to $500 million for in 2006.

“God willing, we are going to buy over $1 billion in this market,” Rahmani said in an email last year.

Sources said most of their money comes from wealthy families, some from the close-knit Persian community.

Igal Namdar is known for his bets on struggling Class B and C malls in smaller cities throughout the United States. Namdar Realty Group owns and manages about 57 million square feet of commercial real estate across the U.S.

Overall, Midtown office buildings have struggled. Office attendance in New York City finally reached 40 percent for the first time since the pandemic, according to Kastle Systems, which tracks card-swipe data.