Ashkenazy, Carlyle JV Closes on $680M 650 Madison

Ashkenazy Acquisition Corp. and The Carlyle Group have completed the acquisition of Manhattan’s 650 Madison Ave., which at $680 million is the largest single real estate deal of 2008 thus far. The 600,000 square-foot tower was purchased from Hiro Real Estate Co. The building (pictured) is located on the block spanning 59th and 60th Streets, across from the GM building in the heart of the city’s Plaza District. It includes approximately 90,000 square feet of prime retail space including flagship stores of Crate and Barrel and Tod’s. Office tenants include Polo Ralph Lauren’s corporate headquarters, Columbia Presbyterian and several investment firms. And it was the building’s trophy designation, significant location, mixed office and retail and potential upside that attracted the joint venture to the asset. “Rents are significantly below market,” Ashkenazy president Michael Alpert told CPN. Although he did not disclose the building’s average asking rates, the submarket’s landlords can command rents upwards of $200 per square foot for office and $1,500 per square foot for retail. The building was at no loss for lending sources, who clamored to finance the deal. “The numbers made sense for the lenders and sponsorship is very strong,” Alpert said. The syndicate of lenders include Natixis and Shorenstein Properties L.L.C., which provided the financing for the transaction. Ackman-Ziff Real Estate Group L.L.C. worked with the partners to secure financing. The joint venture was represented by Kriss & Feuerstein L.L.P. and Greenberg Traurig L.L.P. Eastil Secured L.L.C. acted as an advisor to the buyer, while JP Morgan Chase Realty Advisors represented the seller. When CPN first reported the potential winning bid in February, Dan Fasulo, director of market analysis for Real Capital Analytics Inc., said that the asset was a great deal for the buyers, as the building would have easily traded for 10 percent higher earlier in 2007. Alpert conceded that the building was a fair price given the upside potential, noting that all options are open as far as general repositioning. “There is a lot of opportunity for growth,” he said. The transaction adds the asset to Ashkenazy’s notable U.S. portfolio, which includes: Washington, D.C.’s Union Station; Barney’s New York in New York, Beverley Hills and Chicago; and San Antonio’s River Center Mall. The deal also positions the firm as the one of the largest retail landlords on Madison Avenue. Reports from Cushman & Wakefield Inc. note that investment sales volume in the city have slowed dramatically, after posting $48.5 billion in transactions in 2007. Preliminary estimates record approximately $5.1 billion in transactions closed or under contract at the end of this year’s first quarter; last year, the market boasted $28 billion in sales during the same period.