The “14th Annual Curbed Awards” kicked off this year with a list of the most expensive homes sold in New York in 2017. Manhattan’s new slender skyline icon, 432 Park Ave, took up seven spots on the list, including the entire top three. The most expensive New York home of the year was a package-deal of three half-floor units that sold for $91 million. Sure, the views may be spectacular, but if you have such a budget to spare for real estate, why not shop around?
This big, beautiful country is brimming with opportunity—surely there are ripe investment assets that you could snag for the same price! So, we dug through the Yardi Matrix database and looked at sales of U.S. commercial properties that closed during the past two years at $91 million or less, and handpicked a few that caught our eye. Read on to see our selection of other properties in which you could invest instead of a Manhattan condo.
1. How about a 610-Unit Resort Residence or a 32-Story Office Tower in Atlanta?
Sold in 2016 for $91 million, Westhaven at Vinings is a 610-unit resort-style property nestled in Atlanta’s historic Vining’s district. The property is surrounded by lush rolling landscape, and community amenities include a treetop club house and resident lounge, an athletic club, and four swimming pools. Moreover, Philadelphia-based GoldOller, the real estate investment firm that bought the property, added its signature GO LIFESTYLE services. The company’s COO Jake Hollinger, has since stated that the firm’s “Atlanta cash flow and investment returns have been exceptional,” so maybe that’s one better place to park $91 million, rather than in a one-and-a-half-floor Manhattan condo in the sky.
Alternatively, if you must have expansive views from high up in a tall building, consider the Downtown Atlanta office building at 100 Peachtree Street. Formerly known as the Equitable Building, the 32-story tower sold last year for just $80 million, with tenants like data analytics firm CallRail, Accenture, Koch Industries, and the Atlanta BeltLine on its roster. Built in 1975 and designed by world-renowned architecture firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, the property remains a hallmark of the Atlanta skyline to this day.
2. A Waterfront Portland Office Icon or America’s First Modern Skyscraper
Originally built in 1974, the Umpqua Bank Plaza is a prominent Portland office property, boasting a strategic downtown waterfront location, situated on the western shore of the Willamette River. The tower caught the eye of Chicago-based Zeller Realty Group, which paid $90 million for the Class A property. The deal, closed one year ago, marked the firm’s first purchase west of Denver. ZRG did not unload $90 million across the country for nothing—the 274,497-square-foot property had been recently renovated by former owner Shorenstein, adding to its already alluring advantages. The amenities of Umpqua Bank’s long-time headquarters are very much in tune with the Portland vibe: onsite dining establishments and fitness center, walkability to anything in Downtown Portland, remarkable bike accessibility, and convenient connections to public transport services, as well as major freeways.
Umpqua Bank Plaza manages to offer all this and more, in one of the fastest-growing markets in the U.S., which has been abuzz with up-and-coming technology and creative companies.
Alternatively, if you’d like to really get into the Portland vibe, consider Downtown Portland’s historic Commonwealth Building. A short walk from Pioneer Square, the 14-story office property is testament to Portland’s understated ingenuity. Designed by Portland-native industry pioneer Pietro Belluschi, the building first opened in the late 1940s, as the first property in America to be completely sealed and fully air conditioned, the first to be sheathed in aluminum and the first to use double-glaze window panels. The country’s first modern skyscraper was purchased in 2016 by California-based KBS Realty, for a modest $69 million.
3. Buy Lake Castleton and Seal the Largest Deal in Indianapolis History
Here’s one that would have left some cash to spare! Located in the desirable Northeast side of Indianapolis, this multifamily property encompasses an astounding 1,261 units and sprawls over 90 acres of land, in close proximity to Downtown Indianapolis. Last year, Houston-based Sterling Group and Austin-based Virtus Real Estate partnered up and put down $88 million to close the largest apartment sale in Indianapolis history, at least according to Tikijian Associates, the brokerage that represented the seller, Lake Castleton Apartments. Complete with two lakes, two resident clubhouses, two swimming pools, a fitness center, tennis and basketball courts, a dog park, grilling stations, acres of green space (and much more!), the community offers a wide variety of unit sizes and floor plans.
Consider that you might buy this instead of the $91 million Manhattan combo-sale. Well, the couple of million dollars that you’d save would came in handy—the actual buyers spent out on a capital improvements program to expand common-area amenities, enhance the exterior grounds, and upgrade unit interiors.
4. Make Fannie Mae’s DC HQ Your Own City Within the City
If you have up to $91 million to spend on real estate and are looking for a quirky investment, check out something like the Fannie Mae Headquarters building in Washington, D.C. The iconic, estate-like property was built in the early 1960s and has served as headquarters to the Federal National Mortgage Association for 40 years. In 2016, the property was bought for $86 million by a partnership between local firm Roadside Development and NASH, a subsidiary of Japan’s largest homebuilder, Sekisui House. The developer duo announced plans for a major adaptive reuse project at the 10-acre site, including an 80,000-square-foot Wegman grocery store (the first one in D.C.!), a 140- to 150-key boutique hotel, some office and cultural space, as well as several six-story residential buildings, and even a theater!
5. Move next to Seaworld and the Universal Studios Orlando Resort, Instead
Do you like Seaworld and/or Harry Potter? Look no further than Orlando, Fla.! Last purchased in October of last year for $86 million, the Arium Metrowest residential complex is nestled between Turkey Lake and the MetroWest Golf Club, just 6 miles away from The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and plenty of other entertaining attractions offered by the Universal Studios Orlando Resort. And should you feel like taking a break from your friendly neighborhood theme park, Seaworld Orlando is just a 10-mile drive away. Alternatively, you can shop your heart out at the nearby Mall at the Millenia or the Orlando International Premium Outlets. Ultimately, if you feel like just staying in your 510-unit multifamily property, you can always enjoy the private Floridian fishing pier, the Wi-Fi café lounge, or a session at the fitness studio complete with interactive spin and yoga room.
6. Get a 30-Story Office Tower with Views of Miami Beach and On-Site Louis Vuitton Store
If you especially fancy real estate in renowned financial centers, travel to Miami, and get yourself a nice office tower for less than $91 million. The 30-story 100 Biscayne building, formerly known as the New World Tower, sold in November 2016 for a cool $84 million. When it opened in the mid-1960s, it was Downtown Miami’s tallest building, and the top nine floors originally housed luxury apartments.
Still sporting unobstructed views of the Biscayne Bay and Miami Beach, the property recently underwent a $10 million inside-and-out renovation and is home to famous tenants like luxury brand LVMH, parent-company of Louis Vuitton, Bulgari and other global luxury retailers.
7. Shop Valuable Historical Architecture in the Classy Financial District of San Francisco
Originally built in 1912 as headquarters for the Standard Oil Co., this exquisite French Beaux-Arts masterpiece is a San Francisco architectural jewel. Former owner TA Realty refurbished and converted over 70% of the building to creative office space, artfully exposing original features like brick walls and copper-clad windows, and restoring the double-height coffered ceiling and brass accents of the ground-floor lobby. The firm’s efforts brought the San Francisco Financial District office property to full occupancy, attracting brands like Blue Bottle Coffee and Parisian-inspired restaurant and cocktail lounge The Treasury. 115 Sansome Street also attracted real estate investment firm Vanbarton Group, which paid $83 million for it, in 2016. Just think—with the leftover cash, you could arrange yourself a nice residence on the top floor, if you wish!
8. Ditch NYC for the Chi and Own 48 Stories of Landmark Real Estate, Instead
This Art Deco-style Chicago landmark sold in 2016 for nearly $83 million, and the new owners announced plans to spend another few million dollars on adding a variety of high-end tenant amenities, including a rooftop deck, a tenant lounge, a fitness center and a bike room. It just goes to show that for the price of Manhattan’s most expensive home sale of 2017, you can get yourself an American icon and have plenty to spare for fixing it up. Centrally located in the bustling Chicago Loop, One North LaSalle was built in 1929 and designed by renowned architects Vitzhum & Burns. The massive 48-story office property was Chicago’s tallest structure for 35 years and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1999.
9. Be Neighbors with PwC and Maybe Get a Sneak Peek of This Year’s Best Picture Oscar Winner
Previously known as Plaza Seven, the PwC Plaza commanded $82 million in 2016—that was nearly double the amount paid for the property in 2013! According to Finance & Commerce, this was also the largest 2016 Twin Cities office sale. The 30-year-old tower includes 18 floors of Class A office space, positioned atop a 360-key flagship Radisson Blu hotel, and is located in the heart of Downtown Minneapolis, granting access to both the business and entertainment districts of the city. Despite last year’s famous flub at the Oscars, PricewaterhouseCoopers has lost no popularity. In fact, the Minneapolis regional office has doubled in size over the past six years. This, in turn, prompted the firm to relocate to the top three floors of the Plaza Seven tower—and they liked it enough to put the firm’s name on it.
10. Forget Central Park! Enjoy Views of the Atlantic Ocean from Atop a Fort Lauderdale High-Rise
This rose granite- and limestone-clad office tower has been a Fort Lauderdale skyline icon since its completion in the early 1990s. Located in the heart of Downtown Ft. Lauderdale, the 21-story Class A office property sold for nearly $82 million last year. The tower’s unmatched location offers expansive views of the Intracoastal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean, in addition to handy proximity to fine dining, shops, museums and the Fort Lauderdale International Airport. 200 East Broward also comes with full-service banking, car wash and courtesy shuttle services, a conference center, and 24/7 on-site concierge service. With nearly $10 million in your pocket because you chose the Venice of America over Manhattan, you can fix yourself up a nice pad on the top floor, for when you’re in town!
11. Own the Rejuvenation of the Iconic Boston Globe Headquarters Building
The next item on our list is not the tallest of properties, but it carries a resounding name and sprawls over 16.5 acres—only some of the merits that justified an $81 million price tag, which was paid last year by Alcion Ventures, in partnership with development company Nordblom. The original iconic Boston Globe building was constructed in 1958 especially for the eponymous world-renowned publication, and multiple additions were built through 2004. Alcion and Nordblom immediately announced plans to renovate the structure, in true Boston adaptive-reuse spirit. The project aims to breathe bustling new life into the property by attracting creative office, technology, and life sciences tenants. Conversion plans include remaking the multilevel printing press area into a posh food hall complete with a local brewery tap room, unifying the building façade, and adding a landscaped courtyard and entry at the northern end.
12. Join the Dark Side—Buy Your Own Vader Building
One of Sacramento’s most distinctive properties, the Renaissance Tower is nicknamed the “Darth Vader building,” for its haunting dark glass silhouette on the city skyline. Built in the 1980s, the 28-story office tower encompasses over 330,000 square feet of prime office space, and boasts LEED Platinum certification. Upon completion, it was the city’s first high-rise to reach above 20 stories, and was met with much applause and hope that it would kick-start the revitalization of Downtown Sacramento. In 2016, the USAA Real Estate Co. sold the tower to a Maryland-based firm for $80 million—now that would leave you $11 million to invest in a few finishing touches (maybe some light sabers and proper Sith Lord attire?) and make it your own.
13. One Manhattan Home? How About Two Whole Waterfront Towers in Detroit?
Forget the same old Manhattan attractions and look to the Great Lake State instead. Rising along the bank of the Detroit River, on 24 beautifully landscaped acres, the Riverfront Towers make up a luxurious residential community that is unlike any other. The property is known to have been home to high-profile residents such as Rosa Parks, Aretha Franklin and Coleman A. Young.
In mid-2016, NYC-based investor Image Capital paid $79.5 million for two of the three residential towers, totaling 554 units. In addition to expansive views of the Detroit River and tastefully decorated interiors, property amenities include an indoor pool, a community sauna, a fitness center, several tennis and volleyball courts, a dog run, jogging trails, a restaurant, picnic and grilling areas and a 722-space parking deck.
14. Move to Sunny Arizona and Have Your Own Amazon Distribution Center (and $16M Left for Prime)
The Koll Co., along with Bahrain-based partner Seera Investment, paid $75 million in 2016 for a 1 million-square-foot industrial property in Phoenix’s Estrella Village. At the time, it happened to be the largest industrial sale of the area in four years. The Buckeye Logistics Center also happened to be fully leased to high-profile tenant Amazon. So instead of buying a sky-high pad in chilly Manhattan, consider a well-leased distribution center in the Valley of the Sun, which will also leave you enough cash to enjoy the many benefits of an Amazon Prime subscription!
15. Want to WOW Your International Investor Friends? Nashville’s Where It’s at!
If Manhattan’s appeal to international investors catches your eye, then know that Nashville real estate now shares that stage. In 2016, Switzerland-based Partners Group paid $74 million for the 20-story Bank of America Plaza—that’s 73% more than the amount paid for the property just three years before. Music City is a happening place! According to the buyer, Nashville is a very attractive investment market, with population rising at twice the national average, investment being encouraged by a pro-business environment, and a significant shortage of Class A office space in the city.
The high-rise’s location is within walking distance of the Nissan Stadium, the James K. Polk Museum, Music City Center, TPAC, the Bridgestone Arena, and Broadway.
16. What Happens in Vegas… Is Way More Exciting Than Living in the Sky in Manhattan
If you’re into bustling entertainment scenes, how about Las Vegas? Sky Pointe Landing, a 624-unit oasis situated along Sky Pointe Driveway, in the Grand Entries neighborhood, sold in 2016 for nearly $73 million to Irvine, Calif.-based Shopoff Realty Investments. With convenient access to Highway 95 and the I-215 interchange, you’re minutes away from the famous Las Vegas lifestyle on one side and the Mount Charleston retreats on the other. That’s a steal, compared to one Manhattan condo, even if it is perched up on the 92nd floor!
17. Looking to Add “Impressive” to Your Portfolio? Buy Booming Dallas Real Estate
One of the largest and most recognizable office properties in Dallas’ Stemmons medical corridor, the 634,000-square-foot Trinity Towers went for $69 million last October. According to sale broker CBRE, this property is one of North Dallas’ best investment opportunities, as it is home to tenants like healthcare company Aetna, the Children’s Medical Center administrative offices, and Southwest Airlines.
In addition to must-have on-site amenities like a fitness facility and a modern conference center, the property’s location offers excellent access to the Stemmons Freeway, the John Carpenter Freeway, the I-30 and the Dallas North Tollway, as well as quick access to the Dallas Love Field Airport and DFW International Airport.
18. Own a Record-High Building in Florida, for 3/4 of the Price
Pinellas County’s tallest office tower, the Priatek Plaza, sold for $66 million last year to Third Lake Capital—an investment firm controlled by the owners of Ashley Furniture. The new owners promptly announced that improvements are underway for Downtown Saint Petersburg’s most iconic building, which rises 28 stories and encompasses nearly 340,000 square feet of Class A office space. The sale also included an adjacent 1-acre lot, and, with the hypothetical $25 million left over from buying the Priatek instead of Manhattan’s $91 million property, that empty lot is full of development potential.
19. Escape the Stress of NYC—Get 1000+ Apartments in OKC and Handpick Your Neighbors
Weidner Apartment Homes purchased Brookwood Village last year for $61 million. With an astounding 1,128 units, this is Oklahoma’s largest apartment complex. Complete with a horseshoe pit, a miniature golf course, a rollerblade hockey court, six tennis courts, nine swimming pools, and a 20-acre park, it also sounds like it may be the most entertaining—quite possibly more fun than gazing out the window from the 92nd floor, no matter how pretty the sparkling lights of Manhattan are!
20. Money CAN Buy Charm—Spend Yours on Prime Baltimore Real Estate
One of Baltimore’s most charming adaptive-reuse projects, the building at 111 Market Street in Downtown Baltimore is a transformed Coca-Cola warehouse that was originally built in 1910. Converted from industrial to office use in 1990, The Candler Building also once served as the first operational headquarters for the U.S. Social Security system.
Herndon, Va.-based American Real Estate Partners purchased the Inner Harbor jewel last year for $60 million, announcing plans to also invest a few extra million in polishing it further. With a great location and tenants like Johns Hopkins University, engineering firm RK&K, and law firm Venable LLP, the historic Candler Building remains a solid investment option, 100+ years into its story.
Have we convinced you that there’s more to bog-money real estate shopping than Manhattan? If so, here’s the long form of our subjective favorite picks list: