NY Crains reports that the largest African-American-run bank in the country has signed a lease to relocate its Harlem headquarters office after recently selling the West 125th Street building where it has long based its operations. But it’s not leaving the neighborhood and will maintain the bank branch at the site of the home it’s departing.
Carver Federal Savings will move into about 20,000 square feet at 1825 Park Ave., a 12-story building on the corner of East 125th Street. The bank will take the property’s entire 12th floor and a portion of its seventh floor in the deal, which stretches for 10 years.
Last month Carver, which has struggled financially, sold its headquarters at 75 W. 125th St. to a subsidiary of the Midtown-based real estate firm Gatsby Enterprises for $19.45 million. With the sale complete, Carver will move its offices into the new space by the fall. A ground-floor bank branch at 75 W. 125th St. that serves as its only retail banking location will remain in place.
“A critical component of this entire deal was that they keep the current bank branch,” said Eric Yarbro, a leasing broker at Colliers International and the chief executive of the brokerage firm Madison Square Realty, who helped Carver arrange the sale of its building and represented it in both a lease to keep its present retail space and the office lease at 1825 Park Ave. “It has been such an important location for connecting with its customers.”
Mitch Arkin, a broker at Cushman & Wakefield, and Ellen Israel, a broker at JRT Realty, represented 1825 Park Ave.’s landlord, Savanna, in the deal.
Carver has earned high marks for the job it has done providing loans to the local Harlem business community, but has failed to do so profitably.
Carver has earned high marks for the job it has done providing loans to the local Harlem business community, but has failed to do so profitably. At the end of last year it reported a net loss of about $2.2 million, and federal regulators have instructed the bank to turn around its balance sheet. The cash infusion from the sale of its building is expected to help its financial position.
“This is a bank where 83 cents of every dollar in deposits goes back into the community,” Yarbro said. “So finding a deal to stay in the community was essential.”
The real estate investment firm Savanna purchased 1825 Park Ave. at the end of 2015 for nearly $50 million and has poured $10 million more into renovations, including a new lobby space.
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“When we bought the asset, we believed we could attract tenants who are in Harlem,” said Kerry Powers, a senior associate at Savanna who has helped manage the firm’s repositioning of the building. “It’s a big deal for us to bring in a tenant like Carver.”
Savanna is in the process of leasing out other vacant space in the property, including the 11th floor, which Powers said two separate tenants are negotiating to take. NADAP, a nonprofit career-counseling firm, signed a lease for 8,000 square feet at 1825 Park Ave. last year. Savanna also pre-built a 4,900-square-foot office installation on the building’s ninth floor to allow a tenant to quickly take space at the property and save the time necessary to construct an office.
Yarbro said he sees a pickup in commercial leasing in Harlem, which could give a boost to minority brokers, who have struggled to break into the commercial leasing business.
“A tenant like Carver wants there to be minority participation,” Yarbro said. “It’s refreshing to hear.”