PHOTOS: 425 Park Avenue opens its doors

L&L Holding cuts ribbon at New York’s newest power address

While Mark Zuckerberg watches Meta’s bottom line, Ken Griffin is enjoying his $300-a-foot view atop New York’s newest power address.

Griffin’s landlords at 425 Park Avenue cut the ribbon earlier this week on the first new office tower in more than 50 years on the famed business boulevard, which epitomizes the Midtown power lunch and International Style architecture.

The future of New York’s central business district has never been murkier, but developer L&L Holding Company reiterated the conventional wisdom of the Covid era: Workers will return to offices that are fun and exciting to be in.

“If you have a shot of bringing your people back, you want to bring them to a place where they’re going to feel good,” L&L’s Rob Lapidus said at the 47-story tower’s grand opening Wednesday. ”And you feel pretty good being in a building like this.”

Read more

The celebration came the same week that Meta announced it plans to spend $3 billion terminating leases across the country to consolidate its office space. Tech companies once drove New York’s office market, but now Wall Street companies are back to leasing the most space.

Financial service firms — which are more likely to have their employees back in the office — accounted for more than 40 percent of the office leasing in Manhattan so far this year, according to Cushman & Wakefield. That’s up from about 20 percent before the pandemic.

Lapidus and his L&L partner David Levinson celebrated their new trophy tower with architect Sir Norman Foster and New York Times architecture critic Paul Goldberger — giving the building the imprimatur of the Gray Lady’s tastemaker.

Sign Up for the undefined Newsletter

Jonathan Epstein of BentallGreenOak, which co-developed 425 Park with L&L and Japan’s Tokyu Land Corporation, said a small number of elite buildings are going to perform the best.

“The top 25 percent of buildings around the United States will continue to do very well,” he said.

425 Park is certainly in that tier. From the top penthouse floor — where Griffin’s Citadel Securities signed a record $300 per-square-foot rent — you can see Central Park and look straight through the “Chippendale” keyhole atop the 37-story 550 Madison Avenue.

The developers took space that could’ve been leased as offices to build an amenity floor with a soaring triple-height ceiling, transcendental meditation rooms run by guru Bob Roth and an art installation featuring 50 reflective stainless steel orbs called Narcissus Garden — an on-the-nose moniker in a building developed by and for masters of the universe.

In addition to Citadel, tenants include the Kuwaiti investment firm Wafra Capital Partners, Lee Ainslie’s hedge fund Maverick Capital and the private equity firms Hellman & Friedman and GTCR.

Levinson and Lapidus, who have been working on the project for about 20 years, described themselves as “just two guys” — a pair of entrepreneurs who developed in a place where the only other new building, JP Morgan’s new headquarters at 270 Park Avenue, is being built by the biggest bank in the western hemisphere.

The two are part owners of the New York Yankees, and Levinson never leaves home without his large World Series ring, even though the Bronx Bombers haven’t won a championship since the Bloomberg administration and were unceremoniously eliminated from the playoffs just days earlier.

Their building has about 15 percent of its space left to fill.

Techies like Zuckerberg are retreating from the office, but Wall Street bigwigs like Ken Griffin are giving New York’s struggling office market hope that its power addresses still hold clout.