The home of The Coca-Cola Company for more than 35 years is reportedly getting a new owner. The mixed-use property at 711 Fifth Avenue in Midtown Manhattan will soon go to Nightingale Properties and its investment partner, Qatar-based Wafra Group, according to the Commercial Observer, which first reported on the sale. The sale price is expected to be a whopping $907 million for the building’s 354,000 square feet of office and retail space, and the deal should close in the next couple of months.
Completed in 1927, the 17-story Beaux Arts-style building designed by Floyd Brown housed NBC’s headquarters until 1933, when the broadcasting company moved to Rockefeller Center and Columbia Pictures moved in. Then, in 1983, Coca-Cola came to own the property as part of its acquisition of Columbia, and stayed put until 2018, when it decided to put 711 Fifth Avenue on the market.
The Fifth Avenue building offers more than 320,000 square feet of Plaza District office space, and more than 30,000 square feet of retail. Currently, several office floors lie vacant, and retailers Ralph Lauren and Breguet have also vacated their stores, but continue to lease the space. Following the sale, Coca-Cola will also give up the space it holds within the building, so the new owners have some decisions to make. They might choose to buy out the remaining term on the retail leases, which are set to expire in 2029, and start marketing the space to prospective tenants. That won’t be an easy task, as it’s well known that Fifth Avenue is the most expensive retail corridor in the world, and the rents are notoriously high, making it a challenge to find suitable long-term tenants. Notable names that currently operate in the building reportedly include National Geographic, Dunhill, and Omega.
According to Globe Street, even though it has several stories vacant, 711 Fifth Avenue has high redevelopment potential, benefitting from a strategic location just south of Trump Tower and three blocks from Central Park. The building is also located across the street from the KPF-designed 712 Fifth Avenue, which is also expected to end up with a lot of vacant space after the closing of the flagship Henri Bendel store on the ground floor.
“711 Fifth Ave. is one of Manhattan’s best kept secrets, a premier boutique gem with a rich history that dates back to 1927,” Doug Harmon, capital markets chairman at Cushman & Wakefield, said in an official statement. “We look forward to working with The Coca-Cola Company as we seek a new owner for this world class offering.” Harmon joined forces with Adam Spies and Kevin Donner to market the property on behalf of Coca-Cola.
The reason behind Coca-Cola selling its Fifth Avenue home is that the company decided it doesn’t need to retain its investment in the building to support its activities in the city. The company, along with its bottling partner in New York, Liberty Coca-Cola Beverages, will continue to maintain an extensive presence in the metro area, even without the Fifth Avenue property, according to a company news release.
From 1996 to 2009, 711 Fifth Avenue was home to Disney’s World of Disney flagship store and its recognisable bronze-toned sculptures guarding the main entrance. Another fun fact about the property is that Floyd Brown, the developer of 711 Fifth Avenue and head of the Bethlehem Engineering Corporation, is known for purchasing the former Waldorf Astoria hotel at Fifth Avenue and 34th Street in 1928, with plans to replace it with a 50-story office building. He, however, defaulted on the loan and the site ended up housing the Empire State Building.
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