Developer Joseph Moinian spent $100 million rebranding the old Newsweek building on Broadway and 57th Street as 3 Columbus Circle and covering up its masonry facade with glass. But that controversial makeover hasn't really improved the office building's standing. Only 16% of the space is occupied, and Moinian is now facing foreclosure. Hey, here's an idea: Whaddaya say we tear the whole thing down and try again?
Today's Wall Street Journal reports that megadeveloper Stephen Ross's Related Cos. is trying to snatch the building right out from under Moinian. Related teamed up with Deutsche Bank to purchase the $250 million mortgage and seek foreclosure on the 26-story building, and according to Lingling Wei and former Observer ace Eliot Brown, Related's plan is to demolish the building just as its renovation is finishing up (oh, cruel irony!) and replace it with the city's first Nordstrom department store. And maybe stick some condos on top! Think of it as a mini-Time Warner Center, Related's big success story one block over.
Nordstrom's search for a Manhattan flagship has been heating up since the company opened its discount Nordstrom Rack store in Union Square, and the Journal's sources say Related will "seek architects to design the building in coming weeks." Moinian can still hold on to the building if he can pay off his debt, but HGTV is going to have to take a lot more Financial District condos off his hands before that's going to happen. He can also buy time by seeking bankruptcy protection for 3 Columbus Circle, but at this point we feel like he'd probably accept a Nordstrom gift card to walk away from this bomb.
· Ross Raids Wobbly Tower [WSJ]
· 3 Columbus Circle coverage [Curbed]