TIAA-CREF Picks JLL as Leasing Manager for 475 Fifth Avenue in NYC

The Manhattan office building at 475 Fifth Ave. came under new ownership last fall when TIAA-CREF acquired it for $144 million, and now it has come under new management. Jones Lang LaSalle has been chosen to serve as the exclusive property manager and leasing agent for the 280,000-square-foot asset.

By Barbra Murray, Contributing Editor

The Manhattan office building at 475 Fifth Ave. came under new ownership last fall when TIAA-CREF acquired it for $144 million, and now it has come under new management. Jones Lang LaSalle Inc. has been chosen to serve as the exclusive property manager and leasing agent for the 280,000-square-foot asset, located in Manhattan’s Bryant Park neighborhood

JLL will have its hands full with a building that has practically been in a state of dormancy for the last few years, but TIAA-CREF is giving the firm the right tools to work with in an effort to capitalize on the rebounding Manhattan office market. “I think people have had their eye on this asset for a long time,” Cynthia Wasserberger, managing director with JLL, told Commercial Property Executive. “With a new and stable owner at the helm that’s going to put in the capital the building needs to be renovated and repositioned, it’s going to open up the floodgates for tenants that want to be in this area and want a building that’s going to be fully modernized.”

The 24-story tower at 475 Fifth, designed by Starrett & Van Vleck, originally opened its doors as the Farmers’ Loan & Trust Company Building in 1926. Now the property is headed for a renaissance. TIAA-CREF has already commenced the multi-million-dollar capital improvement program, which is on track to reach completion by mid-2013.

In addition to the premier office accommodations that will emerge from the upgrading process, 475 Fifth will have another all-important feature to offer — location. “The Bryant Park submarket has seen a huge resurgence,” Wasserberger said. “I think we’re seeing a lot of activity because people realize that we’re close to all the major transportation hubs and you have the park and the benefits of the area as well. You’re surrounded by buildings that have been renovated or are seeing brand new construction and we’re right across from the Public Library. It’s an ideal location.”

JLL will set its sights on two types of users in its effort to fill the tenant roster at 475 Fifth. “We’re targeting the 40,000- to 100,000-square-foot anchor tenant that may want a lot of identity and a presence on Fifth Avenue, where they can be a big fish in a smaller pond,” she explained. The second part of the leasing strategy calls for securing smaller tenants for individual floor space ranging from 4,000 to 12,000 square feet in the tower segment of the building. “Bryant Park is a hot area and we expect demand is going to be very strong when we kick everything off late summer early fall.”

When all is said and done, 475 Fifth will also offer 44,000 square feet of retail space that will be marketed through commercial real estate services firm RKF. As Wasserberger noted, “A year from now it’s going to be a completely different asset.”