GM Building of Yesteryear
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|No, not Macklowe's Fifth Avenue lament. We're talking about the century-old Argonaut Building on West 57th and Broadway, which has housed only two tenants in its lifetime: General Motors from 1916 to 1977; then publisher Hearst Corporation until it moved to Hearst Tower two years ago. It's undergoing a $50M renovation and has space up for grabs, that today's brokers have never traversed until now. For an update, we visited GVA Williams vice chairmanBrian Given in his Madison Avenue office.|
|Earlier this year, a partnership led by Monaco investor M1 Real Estate acquired a 99-year leasehold interest in the 170k SF building. It was in dire need of freshening up, Brian recalls, so they tapped him and colleagues Michael Cohen, Robert Sass, Robert Bakst andLesley Lisser as re-development partners. GVA Williams, no stranger to repositioning, also worked on 57 West 57th, 650 Madison, 183 Madison and 40 West 23rd. Since the building is landmarked, the team will also include preservation specialistsHiggins & Quasebarth and architect Gensler. Planned for early '09 occupancy, it's one of the first NYC landmark building renovations eligible for LEED Gold. Brian says to expect upgrades to the lobby, bathrooms, elevators, HVAC and more.|
|The building is unique, thanks to its original use for GM factory work. The ground level, once the car showroom floor, boasts bronze columns and 17-foot ceilings perfect for potential retail tenants. A service elevator allows cars to reach each of the 10 floors. (GVA Williams actually drove in vintage Cadillacs for a 6th floor broker's party last summer.) The building will retain the Argonaut name.|
|Manhattan's busiest Duane Reade used to call the ground floor home but moved across the street as part of the purchase agreement. Don't expect any more discounts—Brian says the firm is courting high-end retail fashion tenants and should be finalizing a lease agreement with a financial firm for retail space within two weeks.Communications, media and entertainment industries, some of the few tenants growing in Midtown West, are the main office targets. This tax photo (taken when New York City snapped every house and building in the five boroughs between 1939 and 1941) shows old-time tenant Cadillac LaSalle. The renovation team plans to return the storefront facades to their original mahogany glory (even though it looks black and white to us).|
|Brian with an old sign that has the number you'd call to lease space from Williams back in the '60s. For you Generation Xers and Yers, the MU exchange means Murray Hill. Maybe they had a party line, too.|