Harbor Group to Acquire CBS Building In Midtown Manhattan for $760 Million

John Jordan | August 17, 2021

The CBS Building in New York City at 51 W. 52nd St.

NEW YORK—Harbor Group International, LLC, a privately owned international real estate investment and management firm headquartered in Norfolk, VA, has entered into an agreement to acquire 51 W. 52nd St. in Midtown Manhattan for $760 million. Known as the “CBS Building” or “Black Rock,” this purchase marks the first sale since it opened in 1964.

The seller—ViacomCBS—will lease back its space on a short-term basis. The transaction is expected to close before the end of the year. Earlier this year, Harbor Group acquired a multifamily property in Rockland and two office buildings in Yonkers.

“The agreement to acquire the CBS Building is further proof of HGI’s ability to identify and successfully transact for unique investment opportunities in an increasingly competitive market,” said Richard Litton, president, HGI. “With its prime location, Class A features, and strong roster of tenants, HGI is positioned to acquire one of New York City’s few iconic assets. We look forward to activating our strategic business plan for this asset at a transformational time for New York City’s office market.”

HGI plans to implement a significant capital program to reposition the property in support of a long-term leasing plan. Updates will include significant upgrades to the lobby and other tenant amenities.

“This agreement follows the previously announced strategic review of non-core assets that we completed shortly after our merger,” said Naveen Chopra, EVP and chief financial officer, ViacomCBS. “The use of proceeds from this transaction will remain consistent with our previously discussed capital allocation strategy, allowing us further financial flexibility to invest in our strategic growth priorities, including streaming.”

Located between 52nd and 53rd streets in the Avenue of the Americas corridor, the property is within walking distance of multiple train stations and is adjacent to Rockefeller Center, which houses many retail amenities and dining options.

Built to serve as CBS’ New York headquarters, the tower features views of Central Park, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and the Midtown skyline. The historic property is the only skyscraper designed by renowned architect Eero Saarinen, whose work includes Lincoln Center Theater and the Gateway Arch in St. Louis.

The acquisition will add to HGI’s Manhattan office portfolio. The firm owns 24 West 40th St. in Midtown on Bryant Park and also owns 55 Broadway in the Financial District.

Darcy Stacom and Bill Shanahan of CBRE are acting as exclusive agents for ViacomCBS in the transaction.

In July of this year, Harbor Group International, LLC, acquired The Henry, a 169-home luxury apartment community in Pomona, for $54 million. In April, Harbor Group reported that affiliates of the firm, in a joint venture with Benedict Realty Group acquired a single-tenant office property in Yonkers  for $37 million from an entity of Robert Martin Co.

The property includes two office buildings totaling 130,607 square feet and is located at 3 Executive Boulevard and 3 Odell Plaza. Both assets are leased on a long-term basis to Montefiore Medical Center (“Montefiore”), a wholly owned subsidiary of Montefiore Health System, one of the largest health care systems in the greater New York City area.

Harbor Group International and its affiliates control an investment portfolio of $14.5 billion including 4.4 million square feet of commercial space throughout the United States and the United Kingdom and 53,000 apartment units in the United States. In addition to its corporate headquarters in Norfolk, VA. HGI maintains offices in New York, Baltimore, Los Angeles and Tel Aviv.

John Jordan
Editor, Real Estate In-Depth