By Scott Baltic, originally published in Commercial Property Executive on 5/18/15.

Bank of China Grabs 7 Bryant Park

What started as a lease has evidently become a purchase, as Bank of China, which last year had been negotiating for about 200,000 square feet of office space in Manhattan’s 7 Bryant Park, has now purchased the building.

Or at least one can reasonably presume that the purchaser is Bank of China. Friday’s announcement that the sale had closed, issued by sellers Hines and institutional investors advised by J.P. Morgan, referred to the buyer only as “an institutional investor.” Hines did not respond to Commercial Property Executive’s request for further information, but the sale had been rumored going back at least to December.

No official figure has been released, but $600 million is generally being cited off the record as the approximate price. The deal involved a long-term leasehold, with minority owner Pacolet Millikin Enterprises Inc. retaining ownership of the land, other media outlets have reported.

Phillips Lytle and Proskauer advised on the transaction. Hines has assumed property management responsibilities, and CBRE will be the building’s leasing agent.

The 30-story, 470,000-square-foot building, which was substantially completed at the end of April, is between West 39th and 40th streets on the site of the former 1045 Avenue of the Americas. It features 10-foot finished ceilings and full-height clear vision glass and is LEED Gold Pre-certified. The architects were Henry N. Cobb and Yvonne Szeto of Pei Cobb Freed & Partners.

On April 9, CPE reported that two Chinese insurance companies, China Life Insurance Group Co. and Ping An Insurance Co., had reportedly each committed to put up one-third of the roughly $500 million cost of the Pier 4 project in Boston. The speculative office-and-condo project is being developed by Tishman Speyer, which will own the remaining third through Tishman Speyer Real Estate Venture VIII, which will be the manager.

A Feb. 26 report on Chinese investment in the United States by the federal U.S.- China Economic and Security Review Commission noted that Chinese insurers have a decided preference for stabilized assets and for holding properties over a Photo: Urban Green Council USGBC NY, flickr long term.

“Over the last decade,” the report added, “Chinese investors have focused on large ‘gateway cities’ such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York, where assets are pricier but also easier to evaluate and access. In 2014, Chinese investment in New York totaled more than $6.7 billion, with the majority of deals in Manhattan.”