A tight market in downtown White Plains has made big blocks of office space there nearly impossible to come by. A brokerage team at CBRE Group Inc. argues they may have a solution for the right company: up to 200,000 square feet of space available just outside downtown.
CBRE’s Westchester and Fairfield county offices were recently named exclusive leasing agent for 1311 Mamaroneck Ave., a 326,000-square-foot office center in White Plains owned by Onyx Equities LLC. The team met Oct. 12 with the Business Journal to preview a leasing strategy for what it says is the largest contiguous block of space available in White Plains and Westchester’s eastern office submarket.
The CBRE team that takes over the building’s leasing is led by William V. Cuddy Jr., Brian Carcaterra, Jacqueline Novotny, Kellene Callahan and Ryan Christie. Novotny called 1311 Mamaroneck a “unique opportunity for a tenant to lease a turnkey headquarters space in White Plains and occupy a building within a building.”
The four-story office complex features three interconnected glass-paneled buildings, built in 1981 on the 27-acre property.
New Jersey-based Onyx Equities most recently acquired ownership of the property in 2014 after a previous owner defaulted on a $52 million mortgage loan. Onyx is also the owner of 1111 and 1129 Westchester Ave. in White Plains, home to PepsiCo Inc.’s Platinum Mile offices.
IBM occupied the entire space at 1311 Mamaroneck Ave. through the late 1990s before the company declined to renew its lease. Jack Parker Corp., the building’s developer and owner at the time IBM left, invested a reported $10 million in renovations to convert the property to multi-tenant use.
Onyx Equities had sold the 1311 Mamaroneck building once before, in 2008. At that point, the Business Journal reported the building to be 95 percent occupied, led by a list of tenants that included The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Orthonet, Acadia Realty Trust and Gerber Life. The building sold at that point for $82.25 million.
The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society moved out in 2015 to 3 International Drive. The same year, Acadia Realty Trust left for a 30,000-square-foot space at 411 Theodore Fremd in Rye.
The building today has openings of up to 200,000 square feet of contiguous space, along with smaller, prebuilt units ranging from 3,500 square feet to 6,000 square feet, according to CBRE.
But filling those large blocks of space is unlikely to be an easy task. In the second quarter in Westchester County, the largest new office leasing deal was just a little more than 20,000 square feet.
The rare mega leasing deals have focused on downtown White Plains in recent years. Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp. signed the county’s largest new lease in 2017, about 101,000 square feet, at 1 N. Lexington Ave. in White Plains. The county’s second-largest new lease was New York Life Insurance taking 89,426 square feet at 44 S. Broadway, also in downtown White Plains.
The 1311 Mamaroneck building is about 4 miles from White Plains City Hall, but its leasing team notes that it can offer an amount of space you just can’t find in the White Plains Central Business District. In fact, CBRE’s second quarter office report noted that there’s only six blocks of space larger than 100,000 square feet available anywhere in the county.
“We’re finding that since we can offer 200,000 square feet, 100,000 square feet, you can’t find that type of inventory in central Westchester anymore,” said Cuddy, CBRE’s executive vice president in Stamford.
And the other large blocks of space available, he said, are farther north, such as the 540,00-square-foot former PepsiCo bottling headquarters in Somers or former Reader’s Digest headquarters in Chappaqua. One significant chunk of space up north could come off the market soon: the owner of the 1.2-million-square-foot former IBM campus in Somers is seeking approvals to convert the property to a private STEM high school.
“It used to be you would never say ‘I’ve got a great big block of space in White Plains,’” Cuddy said. “We couldn’t be more excited about this opportunity now, because we are it.”
Also helping their cause, the CBRE team says, are about $4 million in renovations the building’s ownership completed in 2015.
The renovations focused on improving the type of amenities that Novotny said employers desire as a way to attract and keep employees. The money went toward improving the fitness center, café, lobby and common areas that Novotny said help keep employees happy with their workspace.
“Employee retention is huge,” said Novotny, first vice president in Westchester for CBRE. “And if landlords are able to offer the amenities for the tenants, the tenants are more likely to relocate to that amenitized building. And then employers don’t have to pay to have those amenities in their space.”
The team will also sell tenants on the building’s proximity to downtown White Plains and Metro-North rail stations nearby in Mamaroneck and White Plains.
Unique to the building, Novotny said, is its three separate wings. If a company is looking to take a big chunk of space, there’s an option to add a logo or other branding to a building’s exterior, as well as its lobby.
There’s also the potential to add parking for the right big fish tenant as well. Onyx has city approval to build a 5-story parking garage, if tenant demand requires it. The company is planning similar construction at its Westchester Avenue buidlings nearby, where Onyx has approval to build a 3-story parking garage to meet the demand of PepsiCo employees on the site.
CBRE recently launched a new website with aerial drone footage of the building.