Tuesday 16 July 2019

Johnny Ronan eyes bid for New York's Chrysler Building


Johnny Ronan is interested in acquiring the Chrysler Building (centre) in New York
Johnny Ronan is interested in acquiring the Chrysler Building (centre) in New York

Ronald Quinlan, Commercial Property Editor

He came tantalisingly close to owning New York's world-famous Empire State Building back in the early 1980s. Now, more than 30 years later, Johnny Ronan is weighing up his chances of taking another bite of the Big Apple, the Sunday Independent can reveal.

This time round, the developer's interest has been piqued by the arrival on the market of the celebrated art deco skyscraper, the Chrysler Building.

"It's such an iconic property and Johnny is absolutely looking for the details from the selling agent," a source close to the businessman said following last Wednesday's news of the Manhattan landmark's sale.

While Ronan's company, Ronan Group Real Estate (RGRE) is already involved in the delivery of €3bn worth of office projects in Dublin with its funding partners, Colony Capital, the acquisition of the Chrysler Building would propel the developer into an elite cohort of trophy asset-owning real estate tycoons.

In a rare and wide-ranging interview in 2017 with the UK's commercial property bible, Property Week, Ronan described his failure to secure the ownership of the Empire State Building as the worst decision he had ever made in business.

"Worst [decision]? Not buying the freehold [lease] of the Empire State Building in the early 1980s. We bid $500,000 less than the winning bid," he said.

Johnny Ronan, Ronan Group Real Estate.
Johnny Ronan, Ronan Group Real Estate.

The sale of the Chrysler Building by its current owners, the Abu Dhabi-based investment fund Mubadala, and real estate firm, Tishman Speyer, is being handled by the CBRE Group's New York office. Abu Dhabi acquired its 90pc interest in the property through its sovereign wealth fund, the Abu Dhabi Investment Council (ADIC) for $800m in 2008. The fund became a part of another of Abu Dhabi's investment arms, Mubadala Investment Co, following a merger last year.

The Chrysler was the world's tallest building when it was completed in 1930. It held the title for just one year before being overtaken by the Empire State Building.

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