The building known as 20 South Broadway in Yonkers has remained an anchor of the Getty Square area of Yonkers from the Great Depression through today’s COVID-19 pandemic.
With approximately 148,000 square feet of space, the 12-story office building that was built in 1931 was acquired in 2018 by Chestnut Commercial, an owner and manager of properties in Manhattan, Brooklyn and The Bronx.
“The lobby is literally a classic lobby; terrazzo floors and brass elevator doors,” Howard E. Greenberg, president of Howard Properties Ltd., exclusive leasing agent for the building told the Business Journal.
Greenberg had just wrapped up a 10-year lease extension by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) for 11,953 square feet of space in the building. The space is for the Social Security Administration, a longtime tenant that will be relocated from the 10th floor and portion of the 11th floor into a new facility to be constructed on the entire fifth floor and part of the fourth floor.
The fact that the extension was worked out over a period of about 10 days during the height of the COVID-19 outbreak with various parties working from home reflected the special nature of the building, according to Greenberg.
“All government deals are, shall we say, complex,” Greenberg said. “These are competitive bids and it’s certainly not only done by price. It’s done by quality of the building and the specifications of the building. It has to meet the government’s needs. It’s a little more bureaucratic than dealing with a private company or a law firm, but you just have to put your head down and do it. Government tenants are good-credit tenants so they are desirable to landlords. Given the high traffic and the importance of a group like the Social Security Administration today, they need to ensure that they’re going to have proper quality space for that tenant. The GSA runs the real estate for all government agencies.”
In marking the execution of the lease extension, Daniel Wiener, senior managing director of Chestnut Commercial, said, “The lease is an affirmation of the value that we are creating at 20 South Broadway. It shows that this important governmental agency appreciates the quality of the building, its central location, access to public transportation, on-site parking and professional property management.”
Greenberg explained that being from 1931, “It’s a classic building. It’s got good bones on it. Not only do you have sweeping views of the Hudson from the front of the building, you’ve got them almost from three sides of the building because of the way it’s situated and the shape of the floor plate. Right behind it you’ve got a municipal parking structure and five blocks away is the Metro-North station and right in front there’s a bus stop, so you’ve got really access both for public transportation and parking, which is unusual in an urban area.”
Greenberg described 20 South Broadway as a quality building in Yonkers’ downtown area. He said Chestnut Commercial is a family-owned business so the kind of bureaucracy that often accompanies institutional ownership isn’t a factor when seeking decisions about leasing, marketing, operations or maintenance.
He noted that in addition to Social Security, the key tenants in the building include Bank of America, Westchester Community College, Family Services of Westchester, the Westchester County Health Department, Planned Parenthood, the Visiting Nurse Service of New York and Yonkers Community Action Program.
“We will be putting the 10th floor on the market as Social Security will be vacating it sometime in ‘20 or ‘21,” Greenberg said. “We’ve got the entire 12th floor available and other portions as you go through the building. We’re in the mid-80s percent occupancy.”
Greenberg said that although the building dates from the last century, it is in a good position to meet the needs of the 21st century that are currently being dictated by efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19.
“We’ve got security for most of the day in the building so everybody feeds through the lobby and is observed by security. We do have three different elevator banks, so 50% more elevator capacity than most buildings. We’ve got entry directly from the parking lot in the rear so even though it’s a high-trafficked building we do have the ability to separate people as much as you can today,” Greenberg said. “We’ve got a long entry into the lobby; we’re going to mark off the floor so that people have a sense of the distances they should be and everything everybody’s got to do in this new era.”
Greenberg said that 20 South Broadway should have a successful future in the downtown Yonkers office market.
“We’ve got a neighbor building that’s got capacity. We’ve got some capacity. I don’t see tremendous demand but by the same token as someone that speaks to my colleagues on a daily basis, people that are bringing tenants and other brokers that are representing landlords and representing tenants, there’s both anecdotal evidence and real evidence of people that want to take small offices to avoid going into the city and certainly companies that would like to have satellite offices in the suburbs so that people don’t have to get on Metro-North,” Greenberg said.
He said the phased reopening of businesses in New York state is as much unchartered territory as was the shift to work-from-home status.
“While many companies want to get back to the office, for the most part I have not heard of any terrible problems either in productivity, supervision or anything else in terms of working from home,” Greenberg said. He said that there’s more to transitioning back to offices than just whether businesses are willing and able to execute the guidelines and regulations put forth by government for reopening.
“My biggest question is: When are people going to be ready to go to those offices? When are they going to feel comfortable going to their office space? So, there’s a psychological barrier and we have yet to see how that’s going to work out.” Greenberg said.