Soloviev selling Solow Building: sources

Deal for 9 West 57th St. could be one of NYC's largest ever

From left: Stefan Soloviev and Sheldon Solow with 9 West 57th Street
From left: Stefan Soloviev and Sheldon Solow with 9 West 57th Street (Loopnet, Getty)

The heir to Sheldon Solow’s real estate empire is negotiating to sell what is arguably the most prized address in modern capitalism: 9 West 57th Street.

Stefan Soloviev is finalizing an agreement to sell the prestigious office tower, sources with knowledge of the talks told The Real Deal.

A deal for the Plaza District property would likely be the biggest of the pandemic era in New York City, and likely one of the largest office deals in history. The 50-story, 1.6 million-square-foot building was last appraised in July 2016 at $3.4 billion, or over $2,000 per square foot, CMBS documents filed with the SEC show.

TRD could not confirm the buyer group, but two sources pointed to trophy-collecting investor Michael Shvo, who’s been on a commercial real estate buying spree with the backing of German pension fund BVK and private equity group Deutsche Finance.

Representatives for Soloviev did not comment by press time, while Shvo could not be reached.

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Developed by Solow in 1974, the building became as famous for its distinctive SOM-designed sloping facade as for its developer’s scrupulous nature.

Solow reportedly hand-picked the companies he thought suitable for his prized property. That velvet rope gave 9 West an air of exclusivity beyond that created by $200 a foot rents.

Private equity giant KKR was headquartered in the building during its leveraged-buyout heyday, when it did made-for-movie deals like the buyout of RJR Nabisco. The popular footwear company Nine West was named after the building.

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Current tenants include Och-Ziff Capital Management Group, Apollo Global Management and fragrance company Chanel.

The building sometimes dealt with high vacancies, as Solow preferred to let space sit empty rather than lower rents and dent its cachet. In the half-century since 9 West opened its doors, newer, shinier buildings have lured some occupants away — KKR relocated to Hudson Yards — but the property retains its allure.

One real estate investor called it “everyone’s favorite Class B building in a Class A location.”

Solow died a multibillionaire in November 2020 at the age of 92 and his son, Stefan took over the business. But Soloviev — who has focused on running a cattle and wheat agricultural business in New Mexico and has been buying up farms and vineyards on Long Island’s North Fork — has little interest in running his father’s real estate empire, sources said, and has moved to dismantle the portfolio.

Earlier this year, he struck a deal to sell six Upper East Side apartment rental buildings with some 1,700 units for $1.8 billion to a partnership of Josh Gotlib’s Black Spruce Management and Meyer Orbach’s Orbach Affordable Housing Solutions.

Shvo, meanwhile, has had quite a run. The former luxury residential broker disappeared from the Manhattan real estate scene during the bust, and made a comeback in 2013 as a boutique condo developer. In his latest avatar, he’s become a major commercial real estate investor with a penchant for name-brand properties, such as the Coca-Cola Building at 711 Fifth Avenue, the Transamerica Pyramid in San Francisco, and the “Big Red” office building in Chicago.

Manhattan office leasing volume surged in the third quarter as the borough’s availability rate dropped to its lowest level in 18 months, according to Colliers. Asking rents, on average, remain about 7 percent lower than at the onset of the pandemic.

But trophy office towers such as 9 West tend to float above market trends. In 1970, when Solow had completed the five-year assemblage for the tower, he told the New York Times that “you can only get away with this once.”

“We’re in barracuda land,” he said.