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In January of last year Sony sold its 550 Madison headquarters for US$1.1 billion to investors led by the Chetrit Group. The 37 storey, Philip Johnson designed, post-modernist icon was built only in 1984 and quickly became a New York landmark, occupied then by its first owner AT&T.
The record price achieved with the sale by Sony, who agreed to remain tenants for a further three years, was said at the time by its new owners to be justified by the likelihood of converting the property, at least in part, to condominium ownership.
With high-end luxury apartment sales running this year at US$5, 000 per square foot, or sometimes even more, the attractions of conversion have now become irresistible to the Chetrit Group.
Accordingly, the Wall Street Journal today, unearthed a public filing made by Chetrit to the Attorney General’s Office referencing plans to convert part of the building to 96 condominium apartments. Which floors will be converted are not stipulated, but it is not hard to imagine it will be the highest ones, which command the best views and are the easiest to market for higher prices these days.
The Chetrit group is led by two brothers, Joseph and Meyer Chetrit who were both born in Morocco during the 1960s, to a family who were already well financially established with thriving businesses in the field of textiles and shipping.
Joseph Chetrit was the first of four Chetrit brothers to arrive in New York in the late 1980’s, initially to represent the families textile industries where he was followed by Meyer and another two brothers, Jacob and Juda.
The four brothers began to slowly develop property interests during the early nineties, with their property portfolio growing to considerable proportions under the heading of the Chetrit Group.
In 2011 the Chetrit Group split up into two separate companies, with Joseph and Meyer Chetrit continuing to operate as the Chetrit Group, while their brothers Jacob and Juda, established a completely separate entity to be known as the Chetrit Organization.
It is actually Meyer’s name which is listed on the filing for this new project, so it is his baby. As Sony still have until the end of 2015 to move out this project will undoubtedly still take a while to come to fruition and for the conversion to take place. The Chetrit brothers must be hoping the condo market is still hot when the project finally all comes together.