By Al Barbarino
The Witkoff Group and Cammeby’s International are in contract to sell the top 25 floors of the landmarked Woolworth Building for $70 million, according to reports.
Crains New York Business reported that a group of investors will pay nearly $70 million for the empty portion of the building at 233 Broadway.
The report came following several weeks of rumors of a sale by the owners who have long-mulled their own plans to turn the coveted top floors of the 57-story building into luxury condos or a hotel.
Witkoff and Cammeby’s original plans to convert the top 27 stories into condos, including a top-floor penthouse, were postponed after the September 11 attacks, and failed to regain steam.
Leasing in the lower, office floors has been strong even through the recession. Tenants such as New York University, New York City Police Pension Fund and Paul B. Weitz LLP law firm have kept the portion almost fully occupied.
Witkoff edged out Jerry Speyer and Harry Macklowe to buy the trophy skyscraper in 1998 when he reportedly paid between $124 million and $137 million for the iconic building with financial backing from Cammeby’s.
The neo-gothic building is one of the oldest and — at 792 feet — tallest skyscrapers in the United States. Viewed as a stunning symbol of American capitalism when it was completed in 1913, it was the tallest building in the New York City until the Chrysler Building sprang up in 1930.
In late November of 2009, the Italian real estate investment firm Sorgente Group, part owner of the Chrysler Building and the Flatiron Building, was in talks to acquire a 51 percent share in the Woolworth Building and resume the proposed condo conversion efforts, but that deal fell through.
Neither the Witkoff Group or Cammeby’s returned calls seeking comment.