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While tech tenants have been flocking to the pre-war loft buildings of Midtown South of late, large companies who covet voluminous floor plates are holding onto their mid-century digs along Sixth Avenue (Avenue of the Americas). With many towers now pushing 50 years old, building owners have embarked on major upgrades of the building systems, lobbies, and shared amenities — allowing them to compete with newer edifices being built in Hudson Yards, the World Trade Center, and whatever is on the horizon for the newly-upzoned Midtown East.

A recent story from the New York Post notes that Midtown’s Sixth Avenue is outperforming many of Manhattan's other commercial districts and tenants are still showing these mid-century monoliths much love. Citing data from the Avenue of the Americas Association, Cushman & Wakefield says that for all of 2017, Sixth Avenue leasing outpaced any other major Manhattan avenue or cross-street — a total 3.27 million square feet leased, up nearly 42 percent from 2.31 million square feet in 2016.

The Post cites the success of Sixth Avenue may be due to the fact that nearly all its space is Class A, which yields a healthy Average asking rental rate of $85.36 a foot. Recent headline lease-signings include the renewals of AllianceBernstein’s 992,000 square feet at 1345 Sixth Avenue and 21st Century Fox's 790,000 square feet at 1211 Sixth Avenue. Find below some of the major overhauls taking place along the commercial stretch.
1155 Sixth Avenue
1155 Sixth Avenue 1155 Sixth Avenue (Renderings via STUDIOS)
1155 Avenue of the Americas Modified entry plaza and lobby along West 44th Street (STUDIOS)
Over at 1155 Avenue of the Americas, the Durst Organization with the design guidance of STUDIOS Architecture is undertaking a $110 million retail, plaza and exterior upgrade for their 41-story office tower 1155 Avenue of the Americas. Finished in 1984, the 800,000-square foot building was designed by the fruitful practice of Emery Roth & Sons and stands apart from peer blocks with its dark granite skin, picture windows, and four chamfered corners. All of the building’s windows are being replaced with new high-performance; energy-efficient; clear glass units. The openings along the chamfered corners have been replaced floor-to-ceiling windows.

STUDIOS website says they are also developing a new plaza experience that includes revised retail layout facing Avenue of the Americas, a green screen wall at the south-west corner and new building identity signage. A rendering on their website also shows that a green roof and accessible roof deck may be on tap. The tower recently achieved LEED Silver certification.
1221 Sixth Avenue
Rendering of new Sixth Avenue plaza for 1221 Sixth Avenue (Citterio-Viel & Partners)
The former McGraw-Hill building, the ‘Y’ in the ‘XYZ’ buildings, is to bring most of its Sixth Avenue-fronting public plaza to grade. Located at 1221 Sixth Avenue, between West 48th and 49th streets, the building opened in 1969 with an austere pin-stripe design by Wallace K. Harrison. Last fall, the building’s owner, the Rockefeller Group, announced that the Italian architects Citterio-Viel & Partners have been tasked to redesign the plaza and retail space. A released rendering shows new outdoor seating and planting save for a circular cutout that will bring customers and visitors to 35,000 square feet of retail space.
1251 Sixth Avenue
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1251 Avenue of the Americas -5
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Across from Radio City Music Hall at 1251 Sixth Avenue, Mitsui Fudosan of America is reconceiving the building’s retail offerings. One space along the southern, West 49th Street frontage of the building is envisioned as a restaurant opportunity with more than 34,000 square feet of divisible space. At the building’s 50th Street side, Mitsui is planning a 12,500-square-foot food hall with al fresco seating at ground level and a 9,470-square-foot food hall below. Winick Realty Group is handling marketing and leasing of the spaces.
1271 Sixth Avenue
The Rockefeller Group is currently spearheading a top-to-bottom renovation of the former Time & Life building at 1271 Sixth Avenue. Designed by Pei Cobb Freed Architects, the building is receiving a new exterior façade, reinvigorated plaza and renovated lobby.

According to he Postt, the building captured one of the largest new leases of 2017 when Mizuho Americas captured 270,000 square feet in the building, on top of 141,000 it leased a year earlier. The infrastructure upgrades and improved energy efficiency aims to create a brighter, healthier, more pleasant work environment. The tower is currently certified LEED Silver but is aiming for LEED Gold.
Sixth Avenue construction From L to R: 53W53, 111 West 57th Street, and 1150 Sixth Avenue
In addition to all the corporate hubris show above, a handful of residential and hotel ventures are moving forward on or just off the avenue. Just east of Sixth on West 53rd Street, the super-high-end condo tower, 53W53 is just about to top off at 1,050 feet. The long-planned skyscraper is being developed by Hines and currently has one-bedrooms listed from $3.645 million, two-bedrooms from $5.9 million and three-bedrooms from $6.75 million. Further north, near Central Park JDS Development Group’s 111 West 57th Street is beginning to make its mark on the skyline. Lastly, Morris Moinian’s Fortuna Realty Group is set to start construction on a 41-story, 5-star hotel at 1150 Sixth Avenue.