Savanna’s Fastest Success Story Yet
Turnaround artist Savanna buys low, reinvents the property, leases up, and sells high. Here’s a look at the fund manager’s latest masterpiece in Chelsea. We snapped the company's Kevin Hoo in the lobby of 249 W 17th St between Seventh and Eighth. Savanna purchased it and 245 W 17th in November 2012 and completed $21M of heavy construction a year later, its fastest turnaround yet. It helped that the building was delivered vacant. (Behind Kevin is a work of art—or the world's most unpleasant game of Pac-Man.)
The 145k SF, six-story 249 went up in 1902 and the 145k SF, 12-story 245 in 1909. It was originally the wagon house and warehouse for the Siegel-Cooper dry goods store, and so, once upon a time, merchants would have steered their horses into this arch. Savanna gut-renovated the buildings and overhauled their systems, better to lure tech and digital media companies. (Instead of horses, it wants hipsters—though both are hairy.) Barneys, which also vacated as part of the deal, recently returned to the area with a 57k SF store at 101 Seventh Ave between 16th and 17th.
Kevin says his company’s track record both assures off-market sellers that it can do deals quickly and convinces lenders it can lease its properties up. And Savanna has delivered. NGKF's Amy Zhen and Jeffrey Roseman closed a 60k SF, three-story lease at 249 with Room & Board, which will start construction on its space shortly. And Savanna is talking to several tenants now for the top three floors, plus a tenant that may take the buildings’ shared basement. The landlord is leaving the stunner of a roof deck that we snapped for the lucky winner to fit out. And with that progress (all since leasing efforts launched in November), NGKF can focus on 245 W 17th.
Oh, pre-pre-war buildings and their columns. The floor plate at 249 is 24k SF, but it’s got a full 35 feet between the western and center columns, a benefit Savanna owes to Siegel-Cooper’s wagon house.
At 245, where Savanna prebuilt the 11th floor as a model, floor plates are 12k SF. It has one conference room, two offices, collaborative space, and a kitchen/cafe/gathering spot and leaves the rest for open seating. Kevin oversees 1.7M SF over five assets but also works on acquisitions, dispositions, and refis. He says the company will continue seeking solid acquisition opps and is open to all boroughs.
For techies who want to be close to the mothership, a view of Google’s office sign isn’t a bad perk.