The Times delves into the backstory of 650 Fifth Avenue, a 32-story office building at the corner of 52nd Street that counts among its tenants a Juicy Couture store and Starwood Hotels offices. It's a long and convoluted saga, with a precedent-setting court decision as its latest chapter. The Shah of Iran built 650 Fifth in the 1970s, and the office tower by Rock Center was until recently controlled by two Iranian institutions that had purported to be distinct from the government but, it turns out, were funded a government-owned bank. A past building manager called both the landlords and some tenants "murky." In court proceedings this month, prosecutors alleged that the groups laundered money and violated economic sanctions?and a judge agreed. The U.S. government is seizing the property to manage it and collect rent from tenants, with the goal of eventually selling it.
According to the Times, the building could command up at least $800 million given the market these days. That, and it's pretty rare for a piece of prime Midtown real estate?with coveted ground-floor retail space?to be available for sale at all. An expert predicts a bidding war, which wouldn't be so bad in this particular case, because the proceeds would help pay off some of the billions in damages sought by relatives of victims of Iranian-sponsored terrorism.
· 650 Fifth [official]
· Seizing Iran's Slice of Fifth Avenue [NYT]
?2006 photo of 650 Fifth via PropertyShark