RFR's Blockbuster Start to the Year -- 167,000 SF of New Leases at 757 Third Avenue Bring Repositioned Midtown Office Tower to 95% Occupancy Aggressive Leasing Campaign Attracts 400,000 Square Feet of Leasing Activity in 24 Months, Capped by New Megadeals with Grant Thornton and Berkley Insurance

NEW YORK, Jan. 14, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- RFR Realty LLC today announced two new office leases totaling over 167,000 square feet at 757 Third Avenue, bringing the 500,000-square-foot tower to 95% occupancy.  These new transactions mark the climax of RFR's successful campaign to reposition and lease up the Emery Roth & Sons-designed tower following the departure of KPMG, which vacated approximately 180,000 square feet of the building in 2012. Within the past 24 months, RFR has completed new leases and renewals for nearly 400,000 of building's 500,000 square feet.

(Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20140114/PH46145 )

Grant Thornton LLP, the U.S. member firm of Grant Thornton International Ltd, one of the world's leading organizations of independent audit, tax and advisory firms, signed on for 130,357 square feet in a 15-year deal that will see the firm relocate from 666 Third Avenue and expand its Manhattan presence by 20,000 square feet. Berkley Insurance Company, the principal reinsurance subsidiary of the W. R. Berkley insurance firm, will consolidate Midtown and Downtown offices into 37,453 square feet at 757 Third Avenue. Other recent transactions at the building include a 12,199-square-foot lease to MPA – The Association of Magazine Media, the industry association for multi-platform magazine companies; a 6,961-square-foot lease to investment advisory firm Train, Babcock Advisors LLC; and a transaction that saw Astoria Federal Savings and Loan Association lease 5,700 square feet on floor seven and 5,284 square feet on floor nineteen.

"With our campaign at 757 Third Avenue, RFR has comprehensively outperformed the local submarket," said Gregg Popkin, Chief Operating Officer of RFR. "I think our success here simply confirms that we created something the market wanted – an interesting, compelling office address on Third Avenue with professional management – and marketed it aggressively."

RFR's capital improvement campaign, commenced in 2012, included the addition of a new, contemporary lobby with rotating art program, elevator cab upgrades, and new common corridors and bathrooms. RFR refinished the building facade and installed new retail store fronts. Building infrastructure was upgraded, including enhanced, energy efficient HVAC systems, a new building energy management system, and state-of-the-art access control and visitor management system.  RFR also rolled out a high-end prebuilt program to target boutique tenants.

"Throughout the marketing of 757 Third Avenue, tenants were pleasantly surprised to find such a distinguished property in this submarket," said Mitch Konsker, who along with Alexander Chudnoff led the Jones Lang LaSalle team working with RFR on leasing. "Yet again, RFR has proven to have the golden touch when it comes to repositioning a building and attracting a great mix of tenants."

RFR has a strong track record of repositioning New York office properties to make them into unique offerings in their respective submarkets. In addition to 757 Third Avenue, prominent examples include Lever House, 160 Fifth Avenue, 90 Fifth Avenue, 350 Madison Avenue, and 285 Madison Avenue. Typically, RFR adds new amenities and maximizes underutilized spaces to improve the tenant experience, while improving aesthetics through tasteful architectural updates and a focus on modern art. At the same time RFR makes significant investments in new building systems and continually provides a high level of service to tenants.

"Our team applied many of RFR's signature touches to make 757 Third Avenue into something special, in a submarket where a lot of the product seems the same, while also offering a good value proposition. Tenants responded enthusiastically to the repositioned building, as evidenced by the volume of activity we've experienced," said Steve Morrows, executive vice president and director of leasing at RFR Realty LLC. "We couldn't be more pleased to welcome Grant Thornton and Berkley Insurance to the property. There's no better culmination to a campaign than signing blockbuster deals like these."

Grant Thornton was looking for flexibility to grow its operations in Manhattan, while promoting a new and more contemporary vision for their offices, and 757 Third Avenue offered both. Grant Thornton will have significant signage and branding opportunities, and its own branded security desk within the building lobby. Berkley Insurance, an existing major tenant within the greater RFR portfolio of buildings given its 92,000-square-foot presence at Stamford Plaza Building III in Stamford, Connecticut, was looking to consolidate two existing offices and secure a larger foothold in Manhattan. The focus was to secure a premier asset that afforded both a greater profile and efficiency for their operations. 757 Third Avenue suited Berkley's needs perfectly.

Mike Christian, Gregg Espach, and Chris Helgesen of DTZ Americas, Inc. represented Grant ThorntonChristopher T. Kraus, Brian Higgins and Reid Longley of Jones Lang LaSalle, along with Belinda Scanlon of Bernard Realty, represented Berkley Insurance. Representatives of RFR Realty were Gregg Popkin, Chief Operating Officer; Steve Morrows, Executive Vice President and Director of Leasing; Tom Lavin, Senior Asset Manager; Gerard Schumm, Executive Vice President; and a team from Jones Lang LaSalle led by Mitchell Konsker and Alexander Chudnoff.

About RFR

RFR is a fully integrated real estate investment firm based in New York City with a core focus on select urban markets in the United States and Germany. Founded by Aby Rosen and Michael Fuchs in the early 1990s, the firm has been an active force in the New York City and German real estate market for much of the past two decades. RFR's portfolio has grown to include more than 100 properties located in select domestic and international markets. While its property portfolio is anchored in the Manhattan and key German commercial markets, RFR also has significant commercial, residential, hotel, and retail holdings. RFR has a proven track record of adding significant value to the properties it acquires through property-level repositioning and strategic financial engineering. RFR has created an organization with deep experience in all phases of the property life cycle and is positioned to take advantage of market opportunities.

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