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A blog from CityRealty (Links below will take you to the 6sqft site)

Carter's View

L&L Holding Company LLC announced today that it has acquired 200 Fifth Avenue from Joseph Chetrit of the Chetrit Group for close to half a billion dollars and intends to convert it to Class A office space.

The 15-story building contains is on the northwest corner at 23rd Street and along with the 16-story building at 1107 Broadway on the northwest corner at 24th Street comprised the former International Toy Center complex that was acquired for about $355 million in 2005 by The Chetrit Group from a partnership headed by Peter Malkin.

The Chetrit Group's plans for converting the two-building complex, which it called Madison Park West, involved about 460 residential condominium apartments, about two-thirds of which will be in the 200 Fifth Avenue building.

Last March, the City Planning Commission in last week approved a rezoning for the two-block complex to permit the conversion of the commercial buildings to residential use.

The special permit also affects two, smaller, adjacent, mid-block buildings owned by The Chetrit Group and allows the creation of a 54-car garage in the northern building.

According to the resolution passed by the Commission more than a year ago, "The Commission believes that the proposed amendment to the Zoning Map recognizes the evolving nature of the Madison Square Park neighborhood and more accurately reflects existing conditions in the area. The Commission also believes the proposed rezoning would help contribute to the city's ongoing efforts to increase its supply of housing without disrupting businesses found on the Fifth to Sixth Avenue mid-blocks adjacent to the rezoning area."

Much of the eastern portion of the two large buildings allowed residential conversions but not the far western portions.

The city's Landmarks Preservation Commission approved a certificate of appropriateness last September for a two-story, roof-top addition to 200 Fifth Avenue.

The commission had previously disapproved the planned addition, but the plans were subsequently revised by Avinash Malhotra, the project's architect, and the new plan had less square footage and was about five feet lower.

At one point, the Chetrit Group, contemplated creating a 1,300-room hotel and several hundred small rental apartments in the two buildings and there was considerable controversy over the fate of the toy industry in the city.

The 670,592-square-foot building at 200 Fifth Avenue was built in 1909 and designed by Maynicke & Franke. It replaced the Fifth Avenue Hotel that was opened in 1859 by Amos F. Eno and was initially known as 'Eno's Folly' because the area was considered too far uptown.

The 16-story, 337,000-square-foot building at 1107 Broadway was erected in 1915 and was designed by H. Craig Severance and W. Van Alen. It replaced the Albemare Hotel and it was joined to 200 Fifth Avenue by a skybridge in 1968.

"We are very excited about this opportunity," David W. Levinson, chairman and CEO of L&L Holding Company, declared in a press release, adding that "this is a majestic structure located at the eastern gateway to Chelsea, one of the city's hottest development areas."

"We intend to transform 200 Fifth Avenue into a very chic and exciting office building befitting its history and location. Everything but the facade of this building will be new."

Current plans include converting the open courtyard into a sun-filled series of hanging gardens and L&L is studying the feasibility of installing a sky lobby on the top floor with elevators which will take tenants to a large open area roof garden.

Occupancy of the new building is projected for the end of 2008. Douglas Harmon of Eastdil Secured was the broker in the transaction.

The sale does not include 1107 Broadway.

Additional Info About the Building

Architecture Critic Carter Horsley Since 1997, Carter B. Horsley has been the editorial director of CityRealty. He began his journalistic career at The New York Times in 1961 where he spent 26 years as a reporter specializing in real estate & architectural news. In 1987, he became the architecture critic and real estate editor of The New York Post.