CONDO PLAN FOR DIAMOND TOWER
January 27, 2009
THE Diamond District's mysteries are many: There's no explaining why two men were trying to sell persimmons - no other fruit, just persimmons - off a sidewalk table on deserted West 47th Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues on the coldest night of the year.
By comparison, Extell's maneuvers on the Block of Baubles are an open book, even if the book has some pages missing.
The big news is that Gary Barnett's company just filed a condominium-offering plan with state Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's office for its long-awaited Diamond Tower at 44 W. 47th St., where Extell is building the foundation for the 39-story, 900,000- square-foot project.
If the plan is approved, the condos won't be apartments, but diamond-industry facilities including showrooms and offices.
The tower - to be split between jewelry uses on West 47th Street and regular commercial offices on West 46th Street - will have separate entrances on the two streets.
Except for some retail units, commercial condominiums are scarce in Manhattan.
Developers would rather own what they build, and most office tenants want the flexibility to expand, contract and change locations that renting affords more easily than ownership.
But for jewelry dealers, condo ownership might make more sense.
Diamond companies' space needs - whether for more or less square footage - don't change as much as at other kinds of firms, and because ownership is traditionally passed from generation to generation, condos lend themselves to the sense of permanence that ownership provides.
Meanwhile, Extell, which was gobbling up properties left and right on the block, is selling at least one of them.
Our deeply embedded gem-world moles report Extell is unloading 30 W. 47th St., two doors east of its tower site. The sale will close next week. The price is unknown, but the buyer appears to be Jemco, the same outfit that owns 31 W. 47th St. across the street.
Extell is shedding the property basically because it never really wanted it. Barnett bought the "Fifth Avenue Jewelers Exchange" building last year for $50.1 million because he needed its air rights for the new tower.
The only way to get the air rights was to buy the whole shebang. Extell kept the air rights but has no use for the building.