St. John’s Seeks to Cash Out of Murray Street Space

Posted on March 18, 2013

Last month, the Related Companies’ Stephen Ross was reportedly eyeing the Borough of Manhattan Community College’s campus in Tribeca, in a land swap that would give the college space in Moynihan Station. That idea wasn’t too well received, but it looks like another college—St. John’s University—is putting a building nearby on the auction block.

This afternoon St. John’s announced that it is looking to sell its building at 101 Murray Street. The university bought the property in 2001, after St. John’s merged with the College of Insurance, now called the School of Risk Management, which remains a tenant in the building.

“The University has been continually assessing the value of this asset in terms of space usage and market value,” according to the press release. “With Manhattan’s real estate market now at an all-time historic high, we have determined that it is in the best interest of the University of seek a buyer for the property at this time.”

As with BMCC’s campus, the real prize is not the building, but the development rights available at the site. “The location also has significant development opportunities,” according to the release, “in that the site is currently built to only about one-third of its potential capacity.”

According to city records, the current building, erected in 1984, contains 145,000 square feet of space. By our calculations, the current C6-4 zoning means the site could accommodate a building of nearly half a million square feet with the public plaza density bonus, with both commercial and residential possible.

“The property could be worth as much as $75 million,” Real Capital Analytics Director of Market Analysis Ben Carlos Thypin told The Observer, “depending on, among other factors, how long St. John’s needs to continue to occupy the property while they secure long term space.” Interested buyers should contact Cushman & Wakefield, who is helping St. John’s in their search of a buyer.

The site, separated by just one block from the World Trade Center, is cornered on the block by 89 Murray Street, a recently-built rental building designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. With a Whole Foods at 89 Murray and the millions of square feet of heavily-subsidized office space to the south, we’re guessing the eventual buyer will want to take advantage of the growing demand for housing in Lower Manhattan and build apartments—likely condos, if the market continues the way it’s been going.

Stephen Jacob Smith, New York Observer.