Law Firm Purchases Manhattan’s “Original” Green Building for $70M

The 10-story, 100,000-square-foot former home of the National Audubon Society, which dates from 1891 and – for several reasons – is considered Manhattan’s first green building, recently traded hands for $70 million.

It’s important to keep in mind that sustainable, energy-efficient buildings do exist outside of the LEED rubric. Accordingly, 700 Broadway calls itself New York City’s “original” green building; the 10-story, 100,000-square-foot tower dates from 1891 and is the former home of the National Audubon Society, which purchased the building in 1989 while it was abandoned during a much seedier era in the Village. The organization sold the building in 2006 to the Lincoln Property Company for $53 million and (as we wrote about recently) moved earlier this year to the seventh floor of 225 Varick Street. The Audubon Society has outfitted that space with a number of green design features in pursuit of a LEED for Commercial Interiors Platinum rating from USGBC.

Oddly enough, a local plaintiffs’ law firm that has likely made millions prosecuting claims arising out of exposure to decidedly non-green building materials such as asbestos and lead paint has purchased 700 Broadway for $70 million. Weitz and Luxenberg, which is currently located at 180 Maiden Lane, will move into the entire tower sometime during 2009 and occupy the entire building. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver serves as counsel to the firm; Newmark, Knight, Frank represented Weitz and Luxenberg in connection with the transaction.

Called the Schermerhorn Building when it opened over a hundred years ago, the classical tower was designed by architect George Post, whose Western Union Telegraph Building on Dey Street was the first office building in New York to top ten stories. During the nearly twenty years that it owned 700 Broadway (and notwithstanding the tower’s age) the Audubon Society implemented a number of sustainable design features at the property, including daylighting and occupancy sensors, recycling chutes on each floor, and an efficient HVAC system that features a natural gas fired absorption heater/chiller.

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3 Responses to Law Firm Purchases Manhattan’s “Original” Green Building for $70M

  1. Preston Tuesday, July 8, 2008 at 1:40 pm #

    The purchasing power of a law firm to snag a building like this is seriously beyond my comprehension. It’s cool news, but wow!

  2. Stephen Del Percio Wednesday, July 9, 2008 at 10:56 am #

    Absolutely, but also amazing to think that less than twenty years ago the property was abandoned.

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