ODD COUPLE PLANS A WINNER ON EIGHTH
By STEVE CUOZZO
March 2, 2007
An odd-couple partnership is putting together a huge Eighth Avenue building site that can support a new office tower of up to 1 million square feet, The Post has learned.
In a rare joint venture, privately held Related, headed by Stephen Ross, and publicly traded Boston Properties, led by Mort Zuckerman, have teamed up to buy half of the east blockfront between 45th and 46th streets plus several buildings on both side streets.
The deals involve a half- dozen different sellers and are valued at a total $350 million. The deals are all in contract, but will not close until later this year.
Related and Boston are buying several small vacant tenements, a small hotel, a parking lot, an 8-story garage, and "floating" air rights harvested from other sites within the city's theater subdistrict.
The site's boundaries extend to the western wall of the Imperial Theater on 46th Street and of the Music Box on West 45th.
The fact that Related and Boston have formed a single entity to buy the 30,000 square-foot site does not necessarily mean they will stick with plans for an office tower.
"Manhattan is very unpredictable, and nothing is certain," an insider cautioned.
Nor does it mean Related and Boston will stop at the deals now on the table. Sources said they still covet five small buildings at the avenue block's south end.
Adding them would enable the developers to create an uninterrupted street wall the full length of the block.
The negotiations, conducted in secret for three years, reflect the frenzy for land on Eighth Avenue - the last frontier in central Midtown for large-scale development.
Reps for both Related and Boston declined to comment. Officials at Community Board 5, which vetted the air rights transfers, could not be reached.
Sources buzzed that Grubb & Ellis' Vincent Carrega was representing the sellers and had "engi neered" the multiple and complicated transactions, but he could not be reached yesterday.
Times Square Alli ance President Tim Tompkins said, "a de velopment of this signif icance will be another crucial building block in the redefinition of Eighth Avenue from neglected little brother to an adult that's finally come into its own."
Once grungy Eighth Avenue is in dramatic transformation. The Mid town stretch boasts the New York Times head quarters at 40th Street, Worldwide Plaza at 49th Street and the Hearst tower at 57th Street.
SJP Properties will break ground this summer on 11 Times Square, an office tower between 41st and 42nd streets. Boston Prop erties is putting the finish ing touches on an assem blage between 54th and 55th streets.
Investor-developers including Steven Witkoff have numerous development sites as well.