A partnership between Brookfield and Philip M. “Tod” Waterman III of Waterman Interests has taken over the Lever House from Aby Rosen and Michael Fuchs’ RFR Realty.
A source said Waterman will be responsible for all aspects of leasing and management of the landmark property at 390 Park Avenue.
“We are excited about taking control of the iconic Lever House and will soon be announcing our plans for investing a substantial amount of capital to restore this mid-century gem of a building back to where it belongs, which is among the most coveted office buildings in the United States if not the world,” said the source, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Rosen, meanwhile, is turning his charms on the Chrysler Building where he is planning a new observation deck, dining and retail — and is also trying to renegotiate its ground lease. Asked for comment on the Lever House, he emailed, “No comment. Sold our interest and kept a minority interest In the new venture.”
His partner, Michael Fuchs, previously operated the building’s Lever House restaurant but the Sant Ambroeus group now operates what is known as Casa Lever.
Sources say except for one office floor, the restaurant and garage, the building’s remaining nearly 200,000 square feet across its 21 stories is available for lease through Alan Bernstein at Waterman Properties at rents estimated by CoStar at $102 to $124 per square foot.
RFR and the Waterman-Brookfield partnership were sparring in state court last fall over an appraisal that was needed for a rent reset tied to the property’s ground lease. That action was discontinued in December with prejudice and cannot be refiled. Formal agreements to transfer the ground lease were signed May 20.
At the same time, the Waterman-Brookfield venture terminated the ground lease with the Korein family, which owns the land under the office tower. Rosen’s RFR had defaulted on its loan on the property because of a rent reset in the ground lease, which would have escalated its annual payments to more than $20 million starting in January 2024 — a huge jump from the current $6.15 million.
Rosen had sued Waterman in November, accusing him of going behind his back to become his landlord at the tower. According to Rosen, Waterman offered to help with the struggling property, but instead teamed up with Brookfield to approach the Korein family and negotiate another lease for the building.
This new ground lease became a “sandwich” lease that sat between Rosen and the landowners — making the Waterman-Brookfield group Rosen’s landlord. That lease has now been recast to have started on May 20, 2020. It is also valued at $240 million over the term of the lease which ends on May 31, 2100, city records show.