It’s Amazon’s world, and we just live in it. Not actually—but it might feel that way this week, as the coronavirus pandemic has driven us into our homes and sent us sparring over available delivery windows on Amazon.com.
Now, the biggest retailer in the world is laying claim to one of Manhattan’s biggest retail properties. The New York Post is reporting that Amazon is buying the former Lord & Taylor flagship store in midtown Manhattan for $1.15 billion in cash.
The Fifth Avenue building, which spans 11 stories and around 660,000 square feet, will reportedly be Amazon’s New York City headquarters. The building was most recently leased by office-sharing company WeWork, which has been a company on the skids since its planned IPO unraveled following a huge drop in valuation last year.
The Post reports that Amazon will pay off the $750 million in construction loans WeWork took out to renovate the building, and that WeWork has waived any ownership or claims on the property in exchange for wriggling out of the lease without hassle. The property is currently owned by a consortium of investors that includes hedge fund Rhone Capital (owner of WeWork) and Hudson’s Bay Co., the owner of Saks Fifth Avenue. That group purchased the building in 2017 for $850 million.
This new acquisition by Amazon would seem to dash the notion that the company has abandoned plans to have a headquarters in New York City, as was widely assumed after New York City borough Queens said no thank you to an Amazon campus in early 2019.
This is a smaller operation than the one Amazon had in mind for Long Island City (Queens)—which would have been 4 million square feet, with employees numbering around 25,000. Still, 11 floors holds a lot of coders and customer service reps.
Top: The former Lord & Taylor building (archival image courtesy of Lord & Taylor)
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