June 22, 2010 - New York Post

It’s small as office deals go — but a decision Wilhelmina Models has made to keep its New York headquarters at 300 Park Ave. South is sheer beauty for landlord Rockrose Development.

“They are very pretty girls, which nobody minds,” chuckled Rockrose senior vice-president Patricia Dunphy. In fact, on open-call days, comely young women often line up on the sidewalk. But the just-signed renewal dramatizes the twists and turns the building has taken in the past year.

Wilhelmina, which counts Fergie and Rebecca Romijn among its clients, was set to jump to the Meatpacking District or Hudson Square. The agency had to move because Rockrose planned to let all the office leases at 300 Park Ave. South expire at the end of 2010. Rockrose, now controlled by Henry Elghanayan after his split with brothers Tom and Fred, once planned to convert the 15-story, 175,180 square-foot prewar at 22nd Street to a hotel. It later dropped the hotel idea, but still planned to empty the property this year as it proceeds with a capital-improvements program.

“We saw a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to reposition and rebrand the address, said Cushman & Wakefield’s Andrew Peretz, who repped Rockrose on the Wilhelmina renewal with Cushman’s John Peters. The tower has two entrances, which opened the door to creating a building-within-a-building for one special tenant.

Existing tenants hired brokers to find them new space — among them Wilhelmina, which was set to leave until Rockrose changed its mind and offered renewals. Dunphy said she’s in talks with other tenants to stay as well, although she expects to have a block of around 70,000 square feet to offer new tenants. Asking rents are from $42 on lower floors to $49 at the top.

Even so, Peretz said, the single-user option was still on the table until recently. A school he wouldn’t name was in talks to take the whole building, but, “We weren’t comfortable putting all our eggs into one basket” as Rockrose waited for the tenant to post a letter of credit.

Steve Cuozzo

Reality Check

This article has a pdf attachment: Click to Download