Aby Rosen Snags the Historic Peace Pentagon on Lafayette Street for $20.75M

Posted on: October 23rd, 2015 at 5:00 am by
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Real estate magnate Aby Rosen continues his buying spree downtown, scooping up an historic corner of Noho real estate. Say goodbye to a decades-old symbol of radical activism in the area.

Employing the corporate shell of “337 Lafayette LP,” Rosen’s RFR Realty company purchased the Peace Pentagon earlier this month for $20.75 million. The property – owned and operated by the A.J. Muste Institute since 1974 – had reportedly been under contract as far back as this past June. So, with this transaction, Rosen now owns two enormous parcels that are catty-corner from each other. You’ll recall the active homeless women’s shelter at 348 Lafayette (aka 11 Bond) sold back in July for $26 million.

Meanwhile, the three-story Peace Pentagon is no stranger to such bidding. It’s been on and off the market for years without a sale. In fact, back in 2010, it was valued at a slim $5.95 million. Rosen paid four times that!

337-341 Lafayette has a history of distress, though. As the New York Times reported back in 2007, the Peace Pentagon is sinking, with only a measly scaffolding keeping it afloat. (Ironwork in some form or another has remained onsite ever since.) At the time, there were estimates that repair work would cost at least $1 million. Probably much more now. Ergo, it’s probably a safe bet that Aby Rosen will wheel out the wrecking ball in due course.

Cushman Wakefield, who marketed the property, detailed the following developer stats in its press release:

This prime corner site features over 100’ of frontage on Lafayette Street and 29’ on Bleecker Street.  It currently consists of a three-story building containing approximately 9,789 square feet.  The sale price equates to approximately $2,120 per square foot, a record for NoHo.

The site holds a base buildable square footage of approximately 16,275 at a 5.0 FAR and a buildable square footage of approximately 21,158 at a 6.50 FAR for community facility. It is zoned M1-5B, allowing for commercial, hotel and live-work as-of right. Although located in an M1-5B district, a developer could seek a special permit for residential, as multiple nearby projects have obtained a variance in order to construct residential condominiums.

“The new owner plans to bring this sleepy corner back to life, taking advantage of the buildings tremendous location and proximity to SoHo,” said Cushman & Wakefield’s James Nelson, who exclusively handled this transaction with Mitchell Levine.  Basically an insinuation that the corner was dead before its sale.

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The Peace Pentagon in 1970

Revisionist history. Here’s the real deal from the A.J. Muste website:

In 1969, the War Resisters League bought 339 Lafayette, a three-story loft building in downtown Manhattan. WRL needed to leave its offices in the City Hall area on Beekman Street, and 339 Lafayette was the cheapest building that could be found at around $80,000. In 1974, the A.J. Muste Institute was founded in part to buy the building and maintain it as a permanent center for social change organizing. In 1978, with a dream of establishing a permanent home in New York for the nonviolence movement, the Muste Institute purchased the building from the War Resisters League and began managing it as part of its program work.

For the past nearly-forty years, the building has served as a home base for dozens of activist groups and progressive organizations working for peace. The financial support provided by renting out the commercial space on the building’s ground floor as well as the Muste Institute’s fundraising activities have allowed these groups to secure low-rent office space in a convenient location.

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