RFR Acquires Midtown Manhattan Office Tower from Morgan Stanley for $350M

NEW YORK CITY — New York City-based investment firm RFR has purchased 522 Fifth Avenue, a 23-story office tower in Midtown Manhattan. Morgan Stanley, which currently occupies the building, sold the property for $350 million.

The office building neighbors Bryant Park and is situated near Grand Central Terminal and Rockefeller Center. RFR is hoping to find a single tenant to fully occupy the 575,000-square-foot property when Morgan Stanley moves out in 2024.

Morgan Stanley’s CEO James Gorman told Bloomberg TV that the firm will need much less real estate going forward and that 90 percent of the company’s workforce is working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Aby Rosen, co-founder and CEO of RFR, and A.J. Camhi, executive vice president and head of RFR’s internal leasing team, are leading the leasing efforts for 522 Fifth Avenue.

“We acquired 522 Fifth Avenue with the vision of working with a single user to create a custom, marquee headquarters in the premier midtown location,” says Rosen. “The vacancy is a remarkable blank canvas, well-positioned to respond to the requirements of a forward-thinking company looking for the prestige and exclusivity of a full building and New York City presence.”

In 2014, Morgan Stanley sold two levels of retail condominiums at 522 Fifth Avenue to a joint venture between Deka Immobilien GmbH and New York-based Ashkenazy Acquisition Corp. for $170 million. The retail portion was not included in RFR’s acquisition, according to local media outlets.

The property features several outdoor terraces that RFR will activate, in combination with new interior air quality solutions that Camhi says is of utmost importance as the workforce looks to re-enter New York’s office market en masse following the pandemic.

“Companies are focused on controlling their environments and making sure their employees have the space, amenities and systems to be productive, safe and healthy,” says Camhi. “This headquarters opportunity will deliver on those goals and open up a universe of branding possibilities.”

RFR is a real estate investment firm based in New York City with a core focus on select urban markets in the United States and Germany. Founded by Rosen and Michael Fuchs in the early 1990s, the firm has been an active investor in the New York City and German real estate market for the past three decades. RFR’s portfolio has grown to include more than 100 commercial, residential, hotel and retail properties.

Morgan Stanley is a global financial services firm providing investment banking, securities, wealth management and investment management services to corporations, governments, institutions and individuals. The New York City-based firm has offices in more than 41 countries.

Morgan Stanley’s stock price closed on Monday, Aug. 31 at $51.92 per share, up from $40.99 a year ago.

— John Nelson

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