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Grant Thornton, W.R. Berkley Lease 168,000 SF in Manhattan

RFR Realty Signs Deals That Bring Building Occupancy to 95%
January 15, 2014
Grant Thornton LLP, the US member firm of Grant Thornton International Ltd, one of the world's leading organizations of independent audit, tax and advisory firms, signed a lease for 130,357 square feet over 15 years at 757 Third Ave. in New York City.

In a separate deal, Berkley Insurance Company, the principal reinsurance subsidiary of the W. R. Berkley insurance firm, signed a lease at the same building for 37,453 square feet. Both Grant Thornton and Berkley Insurance are consolidating and relocating their offices there.

The 27-story, 407,767-square-foot building was constructed in 1962 and renovated in 1987.

Grant Thornton was looking for flexibility to grow its operations in Manhattan, while promoting a new and more contemporary vision for their offices. Grant Thornton will have significant signage and branding opportunities, as well as its own branded security desk within the building lobby.

Berkley Insurance was looking to consolidate two existing offices and secure a larger foothold in Manhattan. The focus was to secure a premier asset that afforded both a greater profile and efficiency for their operations.

"With our campaign at 757 Third Avenue, RFR has comprehensively outperformed the local submarket," said Gregg Popkin, COO of RFR. "I think our success here simply confirms that we created something the market wanted - an interesting, compelling office address on Third Avenue with professional management - and marketed it aggressively."

RFR's capital improvement campaign, commenced in 2012, included the addition of a new, contemporary lobby with rotating art program, elevator cab upgrades, and new common corridors and bathrooms. RFR refinished the building facade and installed new retail store fronts. Building infrastructure was upgraded, including enhanced, energy efficient HVAC systems, a new building energy management system, and state-of-the-art access control and visitor management system. RFR also rolled out a high-end prebuilt program to target boutique tenants.

RFR has completed almost 400,000 square feet in new and renewed leases at the property in the past two years, after KPMG vacated approximately 180,000 square feet in 2012. The tower now stands at 95 percent occupancy following the two leases above that were signed this month.

Mike Christian, Gregg Espach, and Chris Helgesen of DTZ Americas, Inc. represented Grant Thornton. Christopher T. Kraus, Brian Higgins and Reid Longley of Jones Lang LaSalle, along with Belinda Scanlon of Bernard Realty, represented Berkley Insurance.

Representatives of RFR Realty were Gregg Popkin, Steve Morrows, Tom Lavin, Gerard Schumm, and a team from Jones Lang LaSalle led by Mitchell Konsker and Alexander Chudnoff.

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