Minnesota based insurance firm the Travelers Companies, whose CEO is Jay Fishman, has sold off its 49% stake in an office building at 77 Water Street in Manhattan’s financial district for $117.6 million, giving it a valuation of more than $235 million. The William Kaufman Organization will retain its 51% ownership in the property.
A company affiliated with the Principal Financial Group Inc. was the buyer.
“This fits our overall strategy of owning well-leased, high-quality office buildings in gateway cities at a discount to replacement cost. The downtown market is very vibrant and we believe it is poised for above-average growth in the future, ” said Jim Halliwell, managing director of Principal Real Estate Investors.
Built in 1970 by the William Kaufman Organization, 77 Water Street has 612, 000 square feet of space over 26 stories. All of its space has been leased by Goldman Sachs for the past ten years. It subleases the space to firms like AT&T, the engineering firm Arup Group Ltd. and the William J. Clinton Foundation.
It is also known for having a replica of a World War I fighting plane sitting on its roof. It was placed there when the building was completed to cover its air conditioning equipment.
The building’s website boasts that it is, “Widely considered one of Wall Street’s most recognizable buildings, ” and that it is, “the quintessential expression of the Kaufmans’ vision that office buildings, and lobby areas in particular, should be welcoming places for workers and the larger community to mix and mingle.”
“The building, which contains 546, 803 square feet of usable office space, features an open plaza area, with an array of interesting elements, including honey locust trees, streams, foot bridges and a wood-framed, turn-of-the-century-style candy store. The crowning jewel of 77 Water Street is a sculptured steel replica of a World War I Sopwith Camel fighter plane, which serves as an endless source of delight and fascination for visitors who catch a glimpse of the unusual object adorning the roof.”
The owners refinanced 77 Water with a $45 million loan from AXA-Equitable in 2011. There is no word yet on whether Travelers will pay off its share of the loan now or if it will be carried over to the new investor. Travelers held its stake there for more than 30 years and did not reveal why it now chose to sell it.