WeWork Takes Full-Building Office Lease in Manhattan

The deal marks the shared office provider’s third lease at a Columbia Property Trust-owned building in the borough. The two companies intend to convert the 102-year-old property into boutique office space.

By Gail Kalinoski

149 Madison Ave.
149 Madison Ave.

WeWork has leased 115,000 square feet, the entire office portion at 149 Madison Ave., the 12-story Midtown South building owned and being renovated by Columbia Property Trust. The lease is the third between the growing shared office provider and the office REIT in Manhattan.

Columbia will collaborate with WeWork to transform the 102-year-old building into boutique office space, with modern amenities and infrastructure. The redeveloped building, which is expected to open in 2019, will have 6,000 square feet of prime retail space with corner frontage on Madison Avenue and 32nd Street. Columbia admitted it was in discussions with several retailers for the space, but did not disclose names.

“With 149 Madison, we saw a unique opportunity to create a custom-designed, boutique building that would provide a differentiated experience for tenants,” said Nelson Mills, CEO of Columbia Property Trust, in a prepared statement. “WeWork shares our vision for this special building’s potential, and we look forward to working with them to position 149 Madison as an ideal home for tenants seeking high-end creative space in Midtown South.”

In a separate statement, Granit Gjonbalaj, WeWork’s chief development officer, said the firm was committed to expanding its presence in Midtown South, which he described as “an area that continues to attract innovative and creative companies of all shapes and sizes.”

Columbia Property Trust acquired the 127,000-square-foot property for $87.7 million in late 2017 from Abramson Brothers, who had owned the asset since 1998, according to Yardi Matrix data. The REIT now owns six office properties in Midtown Manhattan with a total of 1.7 million square feet and also has one building under development. With this latest lease, Columbia’s Manhattan portfolio is 98 percent leased. Newmark Knight Frank handled leasing efforts for Columbia.

Manhattan moves

A week ago, WeWork leased another Midtown Manhattan office building. The deal was for 138,600 square feet at SL Green’s newly repositioned 609 Fifth Ave. WeWork’s office lease brought occupancy at the building to 96 percent, with only about 5,000 square feet of retail space available. PUMA previously signed a 24,000-square-foot lease for most of the newly renovated retail space.

WeWork has been scooping up space in other parts of Manhattan in recent months as well. In August, the company signed a 15-year, 69,679-square-foot lease with Jack Resnick & Sons at 880 Third Ave., an 18-story office tower in the Plaza District. The same week, WeWork signed a lease with TH Real Estate for 258,344 square feet at 21 Penn Plaza, a Class A office building at 368 Ninth Ave.

Furthermore, Columbia and Normandy Real Estate Partners formed a joint venture last month to develop a $300 million boutique office building at 799 Broadway in Midtown South at the corner of 11th Street and Broadway. When completed in the second half of 2020, the 12-story loft-style building is set to total 182,000 square feet of boutique office space.

Last year, Columbia acquired 245-249 W. 17th St., two adjoining fully leased Class A office buildings in the Chelsea submarket, and 218 W. 18th St., another Class A office building in the same area from New York REIT for $514 million. Twitter has its New York headquarters at 245-249 W. 17th St., which has 281,294 square feet.

Image courtesy of Columbia Property Trust

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