Brookfield Lands Anchor Tenant For 660 Fifth, Kushner’s Former Albatross
For the first time since Brookfield Properties acquired a Fifth Avenue skyscraper from Kushner Cos. that had become the center of unwanted attention for the New Jersey landlord, an office lease has been signed.
Macquarie Group has inked a 220K SF deal to move its Americas regional headquarters to six floors at 660 Fifth Avenue, the first lease agreement since Brookfield paid $1.1B to ground lease the 39-story tower. Brookfield is spending $400M on a full-scale redevelopment of the property long known as 666 Fifth, including a new facade with enormous panes of glass, which it expects to complete later this year.
Macquarie will be the skyscraper’s anchor tenant, getting private lobbies on two floors, 30K SF of private outdoor terraces and "top-of-building signage," according to a press release. The Australian financial giant is paying more than $100 per SF across the six floors, the Wall Street Journal reports.
Brookfield's redevelopment includes sprucing up the ground-level retail space, which is partially occupied by Uniqlo, adding outdoor terraces and striving for LEED Gold certification.
“This headquarters lease highlights the continuing appeal of New York City as an unparalleled destination for leading talent from around the nation and around the world,” JLL New York Tri-State Region Chairman and President Peter Riguardi, who led the leasing team representing Macquarie, said in a statement. “Brookfield’s extraordinary repositioning project positions 660 Fifth Avenue among the top office properties in the city.”
The property is facing stiff competition amid uncertainty in Manhattan’s office market, with developers and landlords pouring nine-figure sums into office renovations across the city as tenants flock to recently updated space.
Kushner Cos. infamously purchased the 1.2M SF 666 Fifth tower in 2007, not long after Jared Kushner had taken over as CEO, for $1.8B in a highly leveraged transaction just before the Great Financial Crisis.
While the company touted ambitious redevelopment plans to partners and lenders in the hopes of turning the investment into a success, the building found itself enmeshed in political crosshairs in 2017 when then-President Donald Trump hired Kushner, his son-in-law, as a senior White House adviser.
The Kushner family had been courting foreign investors to the deal, and even after Charles Kushner took the reins of the business back from his son, the appearance of conflicts of interest appeared to imperil any chance of paying off the $1.4B in debt coming due.
In 2018, Brookfield paid $1.1B cash for a 99-year ground lease of 666 Fifth Ave., allowing Kushner Cos. to pay off some of the $1.4B it owed lenders, including Vornado, with whom Kushner had partnered on the building.
Brookfield's investment ties to the Qatar Investment Authority drew scrutiny from congressional Democrats, who launched an investigation into the deal. It is unclear if those efforts ever bore fruit, but the controversy ruffled enough feathers that Ric Clark, then Brookfield Properties' chairman, defended Brookfield’s deal.
“Notwithstanding the constant conspiracy theories in some of the media outlets, there was no quid pro quo,” Clark said in February 2020, according to reporting from The Real Deal at the time.
Macquarie is consolidating multiple offices into its large footprint at 660 Fifth, the WSJ reported, a 65-year-old building that has been outfitted with 11-foot-by-19-foot windows, which Brookfield claims are the largest ever used on a commercial high-rise.
JLL's leasing team included Riguardi, Frank Doyle, Joseph Messina, Steven Rotter, Cynthia Wasserberger, Jessica Berkey, William McGarry, Carlee Palmer and Kristina Kopans, while Brookfield Properties was represented in-house by Mikael Nahmias, Hayley Shoener and P.J. Massey, as well as Cushman & Wakefield's Bruce Mosler, Josh Kuriloff, Ethan Silverstein, John Santora, Matthias Li, Nicholas Dysenchuk and Howard Cross.