14 June 2010

Thor's Bid Gains for Midtown Site

The Wall Street Journal

Joseph Sitt's Thor Equities has the inside track to buy the Takashimaya building, a Fifth Avenue trophy property owned by the Japanese retailer, with a bid of more than $140 million, according to people familiar with the matter.

Thor, which owns stores, office buildings and other commercial real estate in New York and other cities, is close to edging out other bidders, including Vornado Realty Trust and SL Green Realty, these people said. The building, between 54th and 55th streets, has about 100,000 square feet of space and is being marketed by Jones Lang LaSalle.

The bids come as interest in Fifth Avenue retail is heating up even as questions about the health of New York's broader commercial market remain. In April, a partnership led by the Carlyle Group began leasing 666 Fifth Ave. and Japanese clothing retailer Uniqlo agreed to pay $300 million over 15 years, one of the most expensive leases ever in New York.

Mr. Sitt couldn't be reached for comment. A native of Brooklyn, he has been active in a wide range of retail businesses, including Ashley Stewart, the Children's Place and Kidspot. Thor has a commercial real estate portfolio totaling more than 12 million square feet and valued at more than $3 billion, according to the firm's Web site.

Mr. Sitt also is one of the largest private owners of Coney Island property and is working on plans to develop year-round retail and entertainment uses on it. Last year, he sold seven acres to the city which also is envisioning more development of the historic amusement district.

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