General Motors Building (Manhattan)

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General Motors Building
Sherry Netherland Hotel jeh.JPG
The building as seen from Central Park in 2008
General information
TypeOffices, retail
Architectural styleInternational Style
Location767 5th Ave
New York, NY 10153
Coordinates40°45′50″N 73°58′21″W / 40.76389°N 73.97250°W / 40.76389; -73.97250Coordinates: 40°45′50″N 73°58′21″W / 40.76389°N 73.97250°W / 40.76389; -73.97250
Construction started1964
OwnerBoston Properties
Roof705 ft (215 m)
Technical details
Floor count50
Floor area1,637,363 sq ft (152,116.0 m2)[1]
Design and construction
ArchitectEdward Durell Stone & Associates
Emery Roth & Sons
DeveloperCecilia Benattar
EngineerThe Office of James Ruderman

The General Motors Building is a 50-story, 705 ft (215 m) office tower at 767 Fifth Avenue in Manhattan, New York City. The building, which is bound by Fifth Avenue and Madison Avenue between 59th Street and 58th Street, is one of the few structures in Manhattan to occupy a full city block. With 1.774 million net leasable square feet,[3] the tower sits on the site of the former Savoy-Plaza Hotel and affords views of Central Park. It was designed in the international style by Edward Durell Stone & Associates with Emery Roth & Sons and completed in 1968. It is the 66th tallest building in New York.

Currently owned by a joint venture of Boston Properties, Zhang Xin, and the Safra banking family, the GM Building remains one of New York's most recognized and expensive office properties. Rents typically exceed $100 per square foot; a 2013 transaction among minority owners valued the building around $3.4 billion while a 2017 appraisal valued it at over $4.8 billion.[4][5]


Apple Store glass cube at the base of the building
From 59th Street

The building was built and developed by Cecilia Benattar, president and chief executive officer of the North American holdings of the vast British holding company London Merchant Securities PLC.

General Motors ownership[edit]

When the building opened, it housed 3,027 General Motors workers taking up roughly half the building.[6]

General Motors moved 700 of the 1,100 employees working in the building to Detroit in February 1981, reducing their occupancy to 12 floors of the building or roughly 400,000 square feet (37,000 m2).[6] In April 1981, General Motors announced their intention to sell the building for more than $500 million while still maintaining their corporate office space.[7] Rather than selling the building outright, GM sold an option to Corporate Property Investors in January 1982 to buy the building in 1991.[8] Corporate Property Investors paid $500 million for the option and received 10% 10-year notes from GM paying $50 million a year. The deal was believed to represent the largest mortgage ever for an office property in New York City. The transaction also made Corporate Property Investors the managers of the building.

Corporate Property Investors ownership[edit]

In 1990, Corporate Property Investors initiated a 3-year, $7.5 million renovation while still only managers of the building, recaulking the windows and replacing about 400 of the 43,000 exterior marble slabs.[9] In February 1991, Corporate Property Investors exercised their option to buy the building from General Motors for $500 million.[10]

By 1995, General Motors was close to shuttering its New York City outpost and moving to Westchester county.[11] However, after employee demand and receiving tax breaks from the city of New York, GM signed a smaller lease for 20,000 square feet (1,900 m2), compared to the 110,000 square feet (10,000 m2) they previously occupied. The move included the closing of the first-floor GM showroom, which had occupied 9,000 square feet (840 m2) of retail space since the building opened.[12]

Donald Trump ownership[edit]

In 1998, Conseco and Donald Trump purchased the General Motors Building for $878 million from Corporate Property Investors.[13][14][15] The group received a $700 million loan from Lehman Brothers for the purchase and Trump reportedly only committed $15 to $20 million of his own money to the deal.[16] Trump raised the controversial sunken plaza where few pedestrians had ventured, which had been criticized by Huxtable, and installed his name in four-foot gold letters.[17]

The building was home to CBS's The Early Show from 1999 to 2012.

Harry Macklowe ownership[edit]

In 2003, Trump and partners sold the building for $1.4 billion, then the highest price paid for a North American office building, to Macklowe Organization.[18][19] Following the acquisition, Macklowe completed a comprehensive $150 million repositioning program which created the Apple Store space as well as 14,000 square feet (1,300 m2) of new retail space on the Madison Avenue side of the building. The property was first recapitalized in January 2005, with new senior debt of $1.1 billion, and $300 million of preferred equity from Jamestown, a German retail real estate syndicator.[20]

In December 2006, the property was recapitalized again, with $1.9 billion in new senior debt. During this recapitalization, Macklowe also repurchased all of Jamestown's preferred equity stake, leaving them as sole owners.[20]

Boston Properties ownership[edit]

In February 2008, due to a credit crisis among lenders, the Macklowe Organization put the GM Building on the market for between $3.2 and $3.5 billion. It sold in May for an estimated $2.8 billion to a joint venture between Boston Properties, Goldman Sachs Real Estate Opportunities Fund (backed by funds from Kuwait and Qatar), and Meraas Capital (a Dubai-based real estate private equity firm). It was the largest single-asset transaction of 2008.[21]

In April 2017, Boston Properties negotiated a new $2.3 billion mortgage from a group of unidentified lenders. This loan represented the largest received by a New York City building since the $2.7 billion Wells Fargo loan to The Blackstone Group and Ivanhoé Cambridge for their purchase of Stuyvesant Town–Peter Cooper Village in late 2015.[22] At the time, the building was appraised at $4.8 billion, making it one of the most valuable office buildings in New York City. The loan was securitized in a number of commercial mortgage-backed security transactions by multiple banks including Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Wells Fargo, UBS, and Deutsche Bank.[5]


The building's design was completed the same year the 1964 New York World's Fair opened. Construction began after demolition of the Savoy-Plaza in 1965, and was completed in 1968. The façade is an expression of unbroken verticality in "glistening white Georgia marble"[23] and sheets of glass. Both architectural firms were prolific skyscraper designers contributing to much of Manhattan's urban fabric; however, the property has been more attractive as a piece of real estate and as a home to its corporate tenants than it has to architecture critics. Paul Goldberger and Ada Louise Huxtable both criticized the building[24][25] and even the first edition of the AIA Guide to New York City (1968), an unabashed apology for International Modernism, noted, "The hue and cry over the new behemoth was based, not on architecture but, rather, first on the loss of the hotel's[note 1] elegant shopping amenities in favor of automobile salesmanship (an auto showroom is particularly galling at the spot in New York most likely to honor the pedestrian)."[23](p157)

Until 2015 the ground floor retail space was FAO Schwarz's (which moved from across the street, in 1986 from 745 Fifth Avenue) flagship toy store, which was featured in the film Big and which won an award for its lighting in 2005.[26] Also in the building is the flagship Apple Store, whose entrance is a 32 ft (9.8 m) glass cube that has been likened to the Louvre Pyramid[27] and which allows a descent into the store via glass elevator and spiral staircase. This addition was designed by Apple and the firm of Bohlin Cywinski Jackson.[28]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ The site had contained the Savoy Hotel, with a limestone ground-floor façade and Beaux-Arts classical style that completed the former architectural unity of the Grand Army Plaza.


  1. ^ Daniels, Lee A. (January 29, 1984). "A Major New Landlord in the City". The New York Times. Retrieved April 15, 2008. In 1982, the General Motors building on Fifth Avenue across from the Plaza Hotel, which has 1,700,000 square feet (160,000 m2), changed hands in an unusual sale leaseback estimated to be worth $500 million.
  2. ^ "General Motors Building". Skyscraper Center. CTBUH. Retrieved June 29, 2017.
  3. ^ Synergy Real Estate Group. "General Motors Building". Archived from the original on February 6, 2011. Retrieved May 27, 2010.
  4. ^ Yu, Hui-yong (June 2, 2013). "GM Building Stake Said to Sell to Zhang, Safra Families". Bloomberg News. Retrieved January 9, 2014.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  5. ^ a b "JPMDB 2017-C7 Structural & Collateral Term Sheet". SEC. October 10, 2017. Retrieved June 3, 2019.
  6. ^ a b "G.M. To Move 2 Units To Detroit From City; 700 Jobs Are Involved". The New York Times. February 5, 1981.
  7. ^ "G.M. Plans to Sell Fifth Ave. Building". The New York Times. April 23, 1981.
  8. ^ Martin, Douglas (January 5, 1982). "G.M. To Get $500 Million For Edifice". The New York Times.
  9. ^ "$7.5 Million Project; Facelift for G.M." The New York Times. November 18, 1990.
  10. ^ Hylton, Richard (February 15, 1991). "Real Estate Group Buys G.M. Building". The New York Times.
  11. ^ "Employees Vote to Remain; General Motors Decides To Stay in G.M. Building". The New York Times. February 19, 1995.
  12. ^ "No G.M. Lease Renewal in '95; Fifth Ave. Showroom to Close". The New York Times. August 1, 1993.
  13. ^ Bagli, Charles V. (February 20, 2002). "Heavenly Match Becomes Real Estate War Over the G.M. Building". The New York Times.
  14. ^ Yardley, Jim (May 31, 1998). "Trump Buying The Landmark G.M. Building". The New York Times.
  15. ^ Ross, George H.; McLean, Andrew James; Trump, Donald J. (February 17, 2006). Trump Strategies for Real Estate: Billionaire Lessons for the Small Investor. John Wiley and Sons. p. 129. ISBN 0-471-73643-0.
  16. ^ Salkin, Allen (April 18, 1999). "Trump: The Smarts Of The Deal; How Donald Uses (Mostly) Other People's Money To Build A Kingdom In His Name". New York Post.
  17. ^ Dunlap, David W. (June 30, 1999). "Courtyard Is Rising With New Look". The New York Times. Retrieved July 18, 2014.
  18. ^ Bagli, Charles V. (August 30, 2003). "G.M. Building Sells for $1.4 Billion, a Record". The New York Times. Retrieved July 18, 2014.
  19. ^ Misonzhnik, Elaine (September 3, 2003). "Macklowe pays $1.4B for GM building, highest ever paid in North America". Real Estate Weekly. Retrieved July 18, 2014.
  20. ^ a b Macklowe Properties - The General Motors Building
  21. ^ "Meraas Capital in Acquisition of GM Building and Other Properties from Harry Macklowe for $4 Billion". Cleary Gottlieb. June 16, 2008.
  22. ^ Putzier, Konrad (April 26, 2017). "Boston Properties lands $2.3B loan for GM Building". The Real Deal. Retrieved January 28, 2018.
  23. ^ a b White, Norval; Willensky, Elliot (1968). AIA Guide to New York City (first ed.). Three Rivers Press. ISBN 978-0812931075.
  24. ^ Goldberger, Paul (1983). On the Rise: Architecture and Design in a Post Modern Age. Times Books. ISBN 978-0812910889.
  25. ^ Morrone, Francis (May 24, 2007). "Trying to Rescue A Sunken Plaza". The New York Sun. Retrieved July 18, 2014.
  26. ^ "Lumen Award Winners 2005". Illuminating Engineering Society of North America. Archived from the original on February 5, 2008. Retrieved January 8, 2008.
  27. ^ Dunlap, David W. (March 2, 2005). "A Cube in the Land of the Wheel". The New York Times. Retrieved January 9, 2008.
  28. ^ Slatin, Peter (May 18, 2006). "Apple's Big Apple Splash". Forbes. Retrieved July 18, 2014.
  29. ^ Ewing, Michael (May 31, 2013). "Banco Itaú Takes Most of the GM Building's 50th Floor in an Unprecedented Deal". Commercial Observer. Retrieved May 20, 2019.
  30. ^ Barbarino, Al (October 31, 2013). "Continental Grain Takes Full Floor Sublease at GM Building". Commercial Observer. Retrieved May 20, 2019.
  31. ^ a b c d Elkies Schram, Lauren (August 2, 2017). "Estée Lauder Renews Over 400K SF of Leases in Midtown East". Commercial Observer. Retrieved May 20, 2019.
  32. ^ Rizzi, Nicholas (April 3, 2019). "Private Equity Firm Signs Direct 19K-SF Lease at GM Building". Commercial Observer. Retrieved May 20, 2019.
  33. ^ Delaporte, Gus (April 29, 2014). "York Capital Management Renews, Expands at GM Building". Commercial Observer. Retrieved May 20, 2019.

External links[edit]