550 Madison Avenue

Sony Tower will now be turned into offices instead of luxury apartments

Development East
Rending of Chetrit's plans (Courtesy DBOX)
Rending of Chetrit's plans (Courtesy DBOX)
Rising to 647 feet on Madison Avenue between 55th and 56th Streets, the Sony Tower (formerly the AT&T Building) has been a long standing icon of the Postmodernist movement.

Designed by Phillip Johnson in the early 1980s, developer Joseph Chetrit last year hired Robert A. M. Stern to transform 22 floors in the 37-story tower into 96 luxury apartments. Units were set to start at $11 million. In 2015, The Real Deal reported that a $150 million penthouse, complete with a marble staircase and spanning three floors was in the making. Covering floors 33 through 35, the space was previously a corporate boardroom. Additionally, eight floors would be home to a five star hotel under the Oetker Collection. Holding 170 rooms, the hotel was also set to be designed by Stern.

Now, however, it seems such plans have been drastically curtailed.

(Courtesy Wikipedia)

(Courtesy Wikipedia)

After purchasing the Sony building for $1.1 billion in 2013, Chetrit this week agreed to sell the tower for $1.4 billion to the Olayan Group and Chelsfield. According to the New York Times, both firms have said that the building will now become an office building.

Sony, then it seems, appears to have cashed in at the right time three years ago when the upper echelons of the real estate market were in high demand. Chetrit’s sale is indicative of the market slowdown. The “one percenters” looking for luxury in the city have dropped off the radar of late, as plans for a “superluxury tower” by Central Park South have also been abandoned. Meanwhile, another who had proposed a similar project on York Avenue and East 76th Street is reportedly in bankruptcy court.

(Courtesy Wikipedia)

(Courtesy Wikipedia)

“Even breaking even is a win,” said luxury condo consultant Nancy Packes speaking of Chetrit’s selling of the Sony building adding that “The appetite of that group of investors has dimmed,” and the market has gone from “mush to ice.”

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