666 Fifth Avenue
666 Fifth Avenue is a 41-story office building on Fifth Avenue between 52nd and 53rd Streets in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. The office tower was designed by Carson & Lundin and built in 1957 by Tishman Realty and Construction. Tishman sold the building when the corporation dissolved in 1976. 666 Fifth Avenue was bought by Sumitomo Realty & Development in the late 1990s, and Tishman Speyer bought it back in 2000, adding tenants before selling it yet again to Kushner Properties in 2007. In August 2018, Brookfield Properties purchased the building.
|666 Fifth Avenue|
|Location||666 Fifth Avenue, Manhattan, New York 10103|
|Roof||483 ft (147 m)|
|Floor area||1,463,892 sq ft (136,000.0 m2)|
|Design and construction|
|Architect||Carson & Lundin|
|Developer||Tishman Realty and Construction|
Ownership and historyEdit
Construction, Tishman ownership, and salesEdit
The Tishman family via Tishman Realty and Construction built the 1,500,000-square-foot (140,000 m2) tower in 1957 for $40,000,000. It was designed by Carson & Lundin, who also simultaneously worked on 600 Fifth Avenue in the nearby Rockefeller Center, and the building was called the Tishman Building. One of its most famous exterior features was the prominent 666 address emblazoned on the top of the building. The other distinctive exterior features are embossed aluminum panels. The original design included lobby sculptures by Japanese American artist and landscape architect Isamu Noguchi, including the "Landscape of the Cloud" which consists of sinuously cut thin railings in the ceiling to create a cloud effect. The cloud is also carried into a ceiling-to-floor waterfall. The penthouse was occupied by the Top of the Sixes restaurant, operated by Stouffer's, which closed in 1996.
The building officially opened on November 25, 1957 in a ceremony led by Mayor of New York City Robert F. Wagner Jr.. Before the building opened, it was 80% leased to tenants including Foster Wheeler, Warner Bros., Revlon, Benton & Bowles, Ted Bates & Co, and American Export-Isbrandtsen Lines. Additionally, Prudential Financial had agreed to purchase the building before completion and lease it back to Tishman for 88 years. For many years the building had a distinctive feature of a T-shaped atrium walk-through open to the sidewalks on 52nd Street, 53rd Street and Fifth Avenue with glass storefronts inside the walk-through. This included a bookstore and another area used for years by Alitalia Airlines.
Tishman Realty dissolved in 1976 and the building was sold for $80 million (about $280 million in 2018). Office tenants at the time included Donovan Data Systems, Keydata Corporation, Loews Cineplex Entertainment, and Shearson while Ted Lapidus occupied the retail space. In the late 1980s, Japanese firms bought Rockefeller Center Japanese realty and development company Sumitomo followed by purchasing 666 Fifth Avenue for $500 million in 1987. Major changes included replacing the Top of the Sixes restaurant with the Grand Havana Room, a cigar bar private club.
In March 1995, law firm Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, previously at 599 Lexington Avenue, signed a lease for 102,000 square feet (9,500 m2) of space on the buildings 17th through 20th floors after Bertelsmann left the space for their new headquarters at 1540 Broadway. In November 1997, the National Basketball Association announced plans to open their first-ever store at the base of the building, replacing bookstore B. Dalton. Brooks Brothers opened a store at the base of the building in 1998, signing a 15-year lease for 23,000 square feet (2,100 m2) at a rent of $5 million per year after Nautica backed out of the space. In 1999, Sumitomo undertook a $20 million renovation of the building's lobby and lower floors, the first since the building had been completed over 40 years earlier. The renovation also relocated an entrance to the Fifth Avenue/53rd Street subway station and replaced the aluminum panels facing Fifth Avenue with glass to allow better visibility for the retail space. After the renovations, the tower was 99% occupied.
The newly reconstituted Tishman Speyer Properties bought the building for $518 million in 2000 (about $730 million in 2018), and about the same time Tishman also bought Rockefeller Center. Shortly after the purchase, Tishman enclosed the atrium walk-through and added a third tenant, Hickey Freeman with a new 4,000 square feet (370 m2) store designed by Robert A. M. Stern. The enclosure cut off the Fifth Avenue entrance, and access now has to be via 52nd or 53rd Street. In 2002 the 666 address on the side of the building was replaced with a Citigroup logo after Citigroup became the building's largest tenant. That same year, Tishman reportedly hired Lazard to market the building for $900 million, although a sale never took place.
Kushner purchase and early difficultiesEdit
In January 2007, Tishman Speyer, along with the German investment firm TMW, announced the sale of the building to Kushner Properties for $1.8 billion (about $2.2 billion in 2018), at the time the highest price ever paid for an individual building in Manhattan. This was an unconventional price for such a short building by New York standards, standing at 483 ft (147 m). 666 Fifth is not among the top 100 tallest buildings in New York City, but its high price was mainly because of its location on Fifth Avenue near Rockefeller Center. The sale was the third blockbuster deal involving Tishman in two years. In 2005 Tishman bought the MetLife Building for $1.72 billion (about $2.2 billion in 2018), setting the previous record. A month before the 666 sale, Tishman bought Stuyvesant Town–Peter Cooper Village for $5.4 billion, which was the biggest real estate deal in U.S. history. Kushner secured a $1.215 billion loan from Barclays to pay for the purchase.
Kushner sold a 49% stake in the retail condominium portion of 666 Fifth to a Carlyle and Stanley Chera-led group for $525 million in 2008 (about $610 million in 2018). The same year, the company bought-out Brooks Brothers retail lease, paying the company $47 million to close their store eight years before their lease ended. Kushner also paid Hickey Freeman $11 million to leave their space. In July 2009, law firm Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe left their space in the building to move to the nearby CBS Building.
In April 2010, Japanese retailer Uniqlo signed a record-setting 15-year, $300 million lease for 89,000 square feet (8,300 m2) of space at the base of the building to serve as their new Fifth Avenue flagship. Shortly after signing the Uniqlo deal, the Carlyle-led group put the retail space back on the market, hoping to fetch between $600 and $700 million in a sale of their stake. Around the same time, law firm Vinson & Elkins renewed and expanded their 81,000 square feet (7,500 m2) lease in the building.
After the NBA Store closed in February 2011, Zara owner Inditex purchased the 39,000 square feet (3,600 m2) space for $324 million, a record deal for a U.S. retail property. The company planned to spend a further $76 million to buy out the National Basketball Association's remaining lease and build out the space. The same month, Swatch signed a lease for the last 2,000 square feet (190 m2) of retail space in the building. In November, law firm Schiff Hardin signed a lease for 48,000 square feet (4,500 m2) of office space on the building's 16th and 17th floors.
At the end of 2011, Kushner brought in Vornado Realty Trust which purchased a 49.5% equity stake in the tower for just $80 million and the assumption of half the building's debt. Kushner also agreed to invest another $30 million to cover the costs of leasing the 30% of the building that was vacant and rework the space to suit tenant needs. At the same time, the lenders behind the senior $1.22 billion mortgage agreed to reduce the loan balance to $1.1 billion, with the remainder placed into a "hope note" that would be repaid when the building's vacancy was reduced. The debt's maturity was also pushed out two years to 2019 and the interest rate was reduced from 6.3% to 4.5%. The bulk of the mortgage had been sold in the commercial mortgage-backed security market and the remaining $285 million balance had been syndicated to firms specializing in subordinated debt including AREA Property Partners, Starwood Capital Group, Colony Capital and Paramount Group. In July 2012, Vornado also agreed to buy the rest of the retail space from Carlyle, paying $707 million for their remaining stake.
Conversion plans and continued difficultiesEdit
In late 2015, Saudi Arabian billionaire Fawaz Alhokair reportedly considered an investment in the property and in 2016, Kushner reportedly held talks with the South Korean state-owned sovereign wealth fund Korea Investment Corporation, however, neither deal was ever closed. The property lost $14.5 million in 2016 as debt payments outweighed net operating income, worse than the roughly $10 million loss reported for 2015. Additionally, the building was only 70% occupied at the time, despite average Manhattan office buildings being 91% leased.
The Grand Havana Room of the property was the site of a August 2, 2016 meeting between Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, and Russian-Ukrainian Konstantin Kilimnik. The meeting drew the attention of the Mueller investigation due to Manafort giving Kilimnik polling data at the meeting and asking Kilimnik to pass the data to pro-Russian Ukrainians Serhiy Lyovochkin and Rinat Akhmetov.
In March 2017, Bloomberg News reported that Anbang Insurance Group of China was in talks to invest $400 million in the building, based on a value of $2.85 billion ($1.6 billion for the office section, and $1.25 billion for the retail section). The company planned to take out a massive construction loan of more than $4 billion along with a record $850 million in EB-5 visa program financing and convert the property’s higher floors into luxury condominiums. At the same time, the Kushners would invest $750 million in the retail portion of the building and end up with a 20% stake in the project. Reports at the time expected the final property to be valued at $7.2 billion, a value far higher than comparable properties in New York City. Some of the alleged terms of the deal were called "unusually favorable," including an exit for Vornado Realty Trust and retirement of the Kushner organization's remaining debt at 20 cents on the dollar, raising concerns about political influence on the Donald Trump presidential administration due to Jared Kushner's position. However, shortly after the reports were made, Anbang denied that they were looking to invest in the building and no deal came to fruition.
After the failure of the Anbang deal, Zaha Hadid Architects unveiled plans for a $12 billion, 1,400 feet (430 m) skyscraper developed by the Kushner organization to replace the current building. The new building, to include retail and residential space and a hotel, would be completed by 2025 at the earliest, and would face a park, created by razing a block of current buildings. The developers also plan to change the name to 660 Fifth Avenue, to avoid the diabolical association with the number 666. The plans to replace the current building were later withdrawn.
In late April 2017, Charles Kushner met with Qatari Finance Minister Sharif Al Emadi in an attempt to secure funding for the tower from Qatar's sovereign wealth fund. Emadi did not agree to invest Qatar's fund in the project. About one month later, the 2017-18 Qatar diplomatic crisis began. Jared Kushner reportedly undermined United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's efforts to resolve the crisis.
In September 2017, the Washington Post wrote: "With one-fourth of its offices empty, lease revenue does not cover monthly interest payments, according to lending documents. A $1.2 billion mortgage, with escalating interest rates, comes due in 18 months. A ratings agency has classified a $115 million portion of the loan as 'troubled,' and company officials decline to say whether it will be fully repaid." In 2017, the building lost over $25 million after a $1.2 billion mortgage's interest rate increased from 5.5% to 6.353%. At the end of 2017, several Democratic lawmakers including Ted Lieu of California, Jamie Raskin of Maryland, and Brendan Boyle of Pennsylvania sent a letter to Kushner Companies inquiring whether the company sought money from foreign governments to refinance the property.
Due to the large amount of debt owed on the tower, Vornado Realty Trust, which owned 49.5 percent of the tower, said in February 2018 that it planned to sell its stake in the building. Kushner subsequently agreed to purchase Vornado's stake for $120 million.
In August 2018, Brookfield Properties, in which the government of Qatar is a major investor, signed a 99-year lease for the property, effectively taking full ownership of the building. The deal allowed the senior mortgage to be paid off in full, however, the $300 million "hope note" was written-off entirely. The company planned to invest more than $600 million to overhaul the building with a new lobby, facade and mechanical systems.
At the end of 2020, hedge fund Millennium Management, LLC will leave 170,000 square feet (16,000 m2) in the building to move to nearby 399 Park Avenue. In February 2019 ING Bank loaned Brookfield Properties $750 million to pay for renovations on the property.
- Brooks Brothers and the NBA Store became the initial ground-floor tenants. Brooks Brothers moved out in 2009, as well as Hickey Freeman in May of that year. The NBA Store closed in February 2011.
- The Grand Havana Room is located on the top (39th) floor.
- The new Hollister Co. Epic New York flagship moved in during 2010, and Uniqlo occupies 90,000 square feet (8,400 m2) on the ground, second, and third floors. The Hollister flagship opened in the later part of 2010 and features a live video feed from Huntington Beach, California displayed on 179 flat-screen TVs outside the store along with wave pools.
- The building has also become an attractive location for law firms, hosting the New York offices of Schiff Hardin, Vinson & Elkins, Norton Rose Fulbright, and Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe.
- In addition to law firms, 666 Fifth Avenue houses the hedge fund Atlantic Investment Management, the hedge fund Millennium Management, LLC, the private equity firm AEA Investors, and the investment bank William Blair & Company.
- The headquarters for DC Comics was located at 666 Fifth Avenue before moving to 1700 Broadway in the 1990s.
The building contains an entrance to the New York City Subway's Fifth Avenue/53rd Street station, which is served by the E and M trains. When the Hollister Co. store was opened, polished gray columns were placed in the lobby near the elevators and changes were made to the subway entrance at the base of the building.
In popular cultureEdit
The 1959 documentary film Skyscraper  was about the construction of 666 Fifth Avenue. The film's director Shirley Clarke described it as a "musical comedy about the building of a skyscraper." Skyscraper was nominated for an Academy Award in 1960.
The building features in the 1978 horror novel Falling Angel by William Hjortsberg (adapted into the 1987 horror film Angel Heart). The novel's inciting incident is the meeting at the Top of the Sixes between gumshoe Johnny Angel and a mysterious client, Louis Cyphre. Hjortsberg's protagonist remarks of the building, "It looked like a forty-story cheese grater."
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In his 2007 memoir, “The Wolf of Wall Street,” Jordan Belfort recalled lunching at Top of the Sixes with a pal from LF Rothschild, downstairs. “It was where Masters of the Universe could get blitzed on martinis and exchange war stories,” Belfort wrote, as depicted in the 2013 movie.
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