Vornado Sells Stake in $560M NYC Office Tower

The sovereign wealth fund Korea Post now owns a 47 percent interest in the 12-story Manhattan property.
7 W. 34th St. in Manhattan, New York

7 W. 34th St. in Manhattan, New York

New York–Sixteen years after acquiring Manhattan’s 7 W. 34th St., Vornado Realty Trust has sold a 47 percent interest in the office and retail tower. The REIT’s new co-owner is sovereign wealth fund Korea Post, which made the acquisition through CBRE Global Investors’ U.S. Managed Accounts Group in a deal valuing the Midtown South property at approximately $561 million.

The transaction comes on the heels of Vornado’s completion of a $300 million recourse financing of the asset in the form of a 10-year, interest-only loan. The REIT, which will continue to hold the majority stake in the building, had been the sole owner of 7 W. 34th since grabbing the 12-story property for roughly $128 million in 2000.

But things have changed in Midtown South since the turn of the 21st century. The TAMI sector has developed an increasingly strong appetite for Class A office space in the submarket and Vornado, well aware of the evolution, recently wrapped up the conversion of 7 W. 34th into a state-of-the-art destination. The transformation of the 115-year-old tower was good enough for the likes of Amazon; in 2014, the company inked a lease for the building, where it now houses its first New York City headquarters and distribution center.

Now a premier tower with a premier tenant, 7 W. 34th was a strong magnet for the investment community–the global investment community. The interest in the property from hopeful buyers around the world likely came as no surprise to Vornado. “I know the incomings that we get from global investors interested in partnering, buying, et cetera at the highest quality is increasing rather than decreasing. And the incomings are now coming from very, very far and wide geographies including Asia, the Middle East, Europe, et cetera,” Steven Roth, CEO of Vornado, said during the REIT’s first quarter 2016 earnings conference call on May 3.

Korea is more than a little keen on the U.S. commercial real estate market, and the proof is in the numbers. South Korea is the fifth most active foreign investor in the U.S., having shelled out $3.2 billion in capital on acquisitions during the 12-month period ending with the close of the first quarter of 2016, according to a report by commercial real estate services firm Newmark Grubb Knight Frank.

The first half of 2016 has proven quite active for Vornado, whose core portfolio consists of roughly 30 million square feet of Class A office space in New York City and Washington, D.C. Since February, the REIT has completed approximately $2.5 billion in refinancings, the biggest of which involved 280 Park Ave. in Manhattan. Vornado and joint venture partner SL Green Realty Corp., closed a new $900 million loan on the 1.3 million-square-foot office property in May.

Image courtesy of Yardi Matrix