May 24 (Bloomberg) -- Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim bought a townhouse in midtown Manhattan that will be used for office space, extending his purchases of real estate in the city as property values increase.
A limited liability company set up by Slim paid $15.5 million in cash for the property, according to a person with knowledge of the transaction. The deal for the 16,000-square-foot (1,400-square-meter) building was completed on May 19, less than a week after an offer was made, said the person, who asked not to be named because the details are private.
“New York is a great city,” said Arturo Elias, a spokesman for Slim who confirmed the purchase. “We always think there’s great value in real estate there.”
The price per square foot for Manhattan office buildings that changed hands in March jumped 89 percent from a year earlier, to $477.90, according to Real Capital Analytics Inc., a New York-based property research firm. Sales prices for retail properties increased 17 percent to $1,548 a square foot. Slim has made purchases in the city last year including an office tower and the Duke Semans mansion, both on Fifth Avenue.
The townhouse, at 10 West 56th St., is a commercial property investment and will be used for offices, Elias said. Slim won’t use the space for his own companies, he said.
The seller was Felissimo Corp., a Japanese designer and seller of household goods, cosmetics and accessories, according to the company’s broker, Faith Hope Consolo of Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate in New York. Felissimo, which owned the building for more than 20 years, was negotiating a lease agreement with a luxury retailer and instead received a purchase offer, said Consolo.
“They made us an offer we couldn’t refuse,” Consolo, the chairman of retail leasing, marketing and sales at the brokerage, said in a telephone interview.
Felissimo asked $18 million for the property, Consolo said.
The deal was reported earlier today by the New York Post.
The six-story townhouse is a mixed-use building, with four floors of retail space and offices on the top two levels, according to the listing on Consolo’s website. It has a private garden, and was once the home of actress Elizabeth Taylor and her third husband, Michael Todd, Consolo said.
The limestone mansion was built in 1903 and designed by Warren & Wetmore, the architectural firm that crafted Grand Central Terminal, according to Consolo.
Felissimo operated a retail store and offices at the property until 2009, Consolo said. The townhouse is next door to jeweler Harry Winston, and just west of the Fifth Avenue corridor of luxury retailers that includes the Henri Bendel department store, Swarovski and Tiffany & Co.
“The key to this building: It’s the location,” Consolo said. “It’s got a Fifth Avenue presence without a Fifth Avenue address.”
Slim, the world’s richest man according to Forbes magazine, controls Mexican telecommunications firms America Movil SAB and Telefonos de Mexico SAB. Inmobiliaria Carso SA, a closely held investment vehicle for Slim’s family, bought an office tower at 417 Fifth Ave. last year for $140 million. Inmobiliaria Carso is also the biggest shareholder in Saks Inc., whose properties include its Fifth Avenue flagship store.
Slim’s real estate firm paid $44 million in July 2010 for the Duke Semans mansion, a city landmark on Fifth Avenue.
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