Before searching for New York City office space, understand the core differences between Class A, B, and C buildings. These ratings are how New York City classifies commercial buildings based on location, quality, and amenities.
Moreover, these building ratings can help you decide what you want, need, and can afford.
Of course, this rating system isn’t always easy or clear-cut. Plus, as with everything, there are exceptions to rules. However, these rating standards can determine the desirability and price of a commercial rental.
So let’s talk about the core differences between Class A, B, and C buildings.
Class A Office Buildings: Top Quality
Class A properties are premier buildings considered the best quality and top-of-the-line. Newer, high-quality finishes, updated systems and technology, and industry-leading amenities characterize them.
Of course, there are some differences between types of Class A properties. Some Class A buildings are older, while others are modern, brand-new trophy properties.
The underlying characteristics that unify Class A buildings are:
- 24/7 security.
- On-site property management.
- Gorgeous glitzy lobbies.
- State-of-the-art mechanical systems and infrastructure.
- Quality maintenance.
- Location on a major avenue near major transportation hubs.
The Chrysler Building
A staple of NYC’s skyline since 1930, the Chrysler Building is a Midtown Manhattan icon and a National Historic Landmark. Amenities include energy-efficient systems, central HVAC and operable windows, 24/7 access, and a concierge-attended lobby. The building also offers direct access to Grand Central Station.
Even though this building is roughly 1.3 million square feet, it offers several small office spaces for rent under 5,000 SF that law firms, medical tenants, and media and communications companies tend to lease.
32 Avenue of the Americas
Many older Class A structures also dot the Avenue of the Americas, such as 32 Avenue of the Americas.
32 Avenue of the Americas is a 28-story Tribeca building with 1.1 million square feet of Class A office space. The building has modern mechanical and communications infrastructure, a roughly 569,000-square-foot data center, high ceilings, large windows, and expensive floor plates. There are also amenities like tenant bike storage and 24/7 building access.
425 Park Avenue is a great example of a modern, trophy Class A Building with amenities tailor-made for the modern executive. It’s nothing short of a 47-story, 897-foot-tall, 667,000-square-foot masterpiece.
Located in the heart of the luxe Plaza District, amenities like a triple-height lobby, high ceilings and floor-to-ceiling glass windows, a private 52-space garage, and a lounge for chauffeurs only scratch the surface. Its private Diagrid Club, indoor-outdoor gardens, breathtaking views of Midtown and Central Park, and two-floor restaurant curated by Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten put it over the top.
One World Trade Center
The booming Financial District also has several Modern Class A Buildings. Of course, the crown jewel of these Modern Class A buildings is One World Trade Center.
The 104-story, 3.1 million-square-foot office tower transformed the World Trade Center submarket from a financial services cluster to a tech, retail, and luxury living hub.
One World Trade Center is a LEED Gold-certified tower that offers top-notch, modern, and sustainable office space. With over 20,000 square feet of amenities, the building has floor-to-ceiling windows offering panoramic views of the city, and column-free, core-to-window office space for businesses of all sizes.
Class B Office Buildings: Mid-Range Rents, Well-Maintained Properties
Class B buildings are generally older properties that may still have some amenities or recent renovations. Many are beautiful buildings with grand lobbies and many extras. Frequently, these Class B gems include large windows, spacious and beautifully decorated loft spaces, high ceilings, and open areas. Although some Class B buildings are comparable to older Class A buildings, Class B buildings largely lack the bells and whistles of Class A.
Furthermore, Class B buildings have a lot of character. Many of these buildings are repurposed factory or warehouse buildings that have considerable charm by keeping some elements of their past lives.
75 Ninth Avenue
Many Class B properties can be found alongside streets throughout Midtown South neighborhoods like Chelsea, The Flatiron District, Union Square, SoHo, and Tribeca.
Chelsea is home to many quality Class B properties like 75 Ninth Avenue. 75 Ninth is a reasonably priced and secure Class B asset. It offers 1.1 million square feet of office space and convenient access to Chelsea Market.
Chelsea isn’t the only Midtown South neighborhood with quality Class B space. 495 Broadway is a historic landmark building with 90,000 square feet of quality Class B office space in the heart of SoHo. It hosts various creative businesses in media, publishing, and fashion.
The lower portion of the building facade has been renovated, as well as its lobby. Amenities include:
- Above-standard ceiling height.
- Two self-service passenger elevators.
- An attended freight elevator.
- 24/7 building access.
555 Eighth Avenue
555 Eighth features more than 162,000 square feet of Class B Garment District office space across 23 floors and provides tenants with a convenient location near the Lincoln Tunnel, Penn Station, and Times Square. It’s an appealing destination for media, technology, architecture and design, publishing, and finance firms.
The building offers tenants amenities like open ceilings, oversized windows, 24/7 lobby security, and on-site management.
Don’t overlook Lower Manhattan’s Class B gems, either. The office tower at 225 Broadway in the City Hall/Insurance District comes to mind. Also known as the Transportation Building, it’s 43 stories. It features more than 460,000 square feet of office space and roughly 15,000 square feet of retail.
Amenities include on-site security, 24/7 access, UPS drop-off, and an attended lobby.
Class C Office Buildings: Functional Spaces at Competitive Rents
Class C properties may have the lowest rating classification in New York City. However, they are by no means the bottom of the bucket. You can find many Class C jewels and be more than happy.
Class C buildings are often smaller, on side streets, and often come with more miscellaneous fees than Class A or B buildings. Furthermore, lobbies are unattended, and there might be only one elevator. The bathrooms may also have yet to be newly upgraded.
Yet Class C properties come with unique selling points.
For example, individuals or families are more likely to own a Class C building. This unique characteristic can enable you to get to know your landlord and build a personal relationship.
Additionally, many landlords actively invest in upgrading their Class C properties. Landlords know what tenants want and are improving property aspects like common areas, mechanical systems, building facades, and more.
If you’re a startup unconcerned about glitter or gloss, a Class C building may be for you.
22 West 19th Street
22 West 19th Street is a hidden gem within walking distance of all major subway lines, Penn Station, Port Authority, and Grand Central. This Class C jewel offers 191,400 square feet of office space, amenities like a renovated lobby, sub-metered electric, 24/7 access, tenant-controlled A/C, and state-of-the-art communication infrastructure.
150 West 30th Street
With 20 floors and 216,841 square feet of office space, 150 West 30th Street offers similar types of Class C perks.
519 Eighth Avenue
The Garment District is known for outstanding Class C spaces like 519 Eighth Avenue. The building has 410,000 square feet of office space and 26 stories, along with 24/7 access and prominent tenants like Vanguard.
The Financial District in Lower Manhattan has excellent Class C properties as well. Take 42 Broadway, for example. With over 396,100 square feet of office space, 42 Broadway is a Class C gem for small and mid-sized businesses. The property benefits from an excellent location close to Wall Street and the World Trade Center complex and offers modern amenities and affordable rents.
The Key Takeaway
Whatever the rating of a New York City building class, it’s not necessarily universal or one-size-fits-all. Even if a building has a Class A rating, that doesn’t automatically mean it’s “better” than a Class B or C building.
While Class A, B, or C ratings come with general qualities and similarities, your best bet is to find a building that fits your business needs. Find a building that suits your budget, is in a decent location, and has as many or as few amenities as you require.
Consider working with a broker specializing in finding Manhattan office space tailor-made for various businesses. Commercial realtors can help serve your commercial real estate needs and help you find the office space of your dreams in the neighborhood you want and for a budget, you can afford.