Blackstone refinances iconic Woolworth Building in New York City

Blackstone has provided a $320m first mortgage loan to refinance the iconic Woolworth Building in New York City, Real Estate Capital has first learned. The floating rate loan covers the office component of the 60-story building, the lower 28 floors, taking out a previous $250m CMBS loan and funding additional renovation costs.

Blackstone has provided a $320m first mortgage loan to refinance the iconic Woolworth Building in New York City, Real Estate Capital has first learned.

The floating rate loan covers the office component — from the ground up to the 28th floor — of the 60-story building, taking out a previous $250m CMBS loan and funding additional renovation costs.

Woolworth Building, circa 1913
Woolworth Building, circa 1913

The previous mortgage, part of BACM 2005-3 and one of the largest legacy loans coming due in 2015, was originated in 2005 by Bank of America and split between a $200m A-note and a $50m B-note.

Blackstone originated the new loan out of Blackstone Mortgage Trust (BXMT), a public mortgage REIT that is part of Blackstone Real Estate Debt Strategies, or BREDS.

The deal marks the second loan the REIT has placed on a high-profile transitional office asset in downtown Manhattan, the first being a $248m acquisition loan made in January on 180 Maiden Lane, a 1.2m sq ft downtown trophy tower.

The borrowers and majority owners of the Woolworth Building, Witkoff Group and Cammeby’s International, formed a partnership in 1998 to buy the copper-domed property at 233 Broadway for $126.5m.

Designed by architect Cass Gilbert and completed in 1913, the early US skyscraper soared 792 feet, remaining the tallest in the world until it was surpassed by the Chrysler Building in 1930.

In 2012, Witkoff Group and Cammeby’s sold (for $68m) the top 30 floors of the 900,000 sq ft building to Alchemy Properties, which used $41m in financing from HSBC to fund the acquisition.

Alchemy is building out and plans to bring to the market in 2016 an array of super-luxury condominiums, some of which carry sticker prices greater than $50m (not to mention an elite $110m, four-bedroom penthouse) and have generated significant fanfare in recent months.

Current office tenants include the General Services Administration, New York University, New York City Police Pension Fund and the Cochran Firm.

Frank Woolworth commissioned Gilbert in 1910 to design the building as the F. W. Woolworth Company’s new corporate headquarters.

A symbol of American capitalism boasting a distinctive neo-Gothic crown patrolled by gargoyles and a vaulted lobby wreathed with mosaics, it became known as the “Cathedral of Commerce.”

Woolworth is said to have paid $13.5m in cash for its construction.

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