Rejected WeWork space going residential

One of the Manhattan co-working locations that WeWork ditched in bankruptcy will be converted into apartments — an early sign of how landlords are dealing with the failure of what was once the city’s largest office tenant.

The Vanbarton Group will convert about 90,000 square feet of office space at its 980 Sixth Avenue mixed-use tower into rentals, a source familiar with the plan told The Real Deal.

The company, headed by founders Richard Coles and Gary Tischler, began working on a plan for the site several years ago as WeWork’s struggles became more apparent, the source said. With WeWork now out of the picture, the space will soon be turned into about 100 apartments.

A representative for Vanbarton declined to comment.

The 25-story building, just north of Herald Square between West 36th and West 37th streets, already has 380 rental apartments above the former co-working space and retail on the ground floor.

WeWork signed a lease there in 2017 during its big push into Manhattan. By 2019 the company was the largest private office tenant in the city with 8.9 million square feet, surpassing JPMorgan Chase.

But the co-working company’s well-documented troubles took their toll, and last week WeWork filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in New Jersey federal court. The company moved immediately to cancel about 70 of its locations, including the Vanbarton space.

Other locations included Kushner and RFR’s Dumbo office building at 81 Prospect Street, Brookfield’s 1619 Broadway, Hudson Square Properties’ 205 Hudson Street and various buildings owned by smaller landlords.

Vanbarton bought 980 Sixth Avenue in 2018 for $316 million. The company renovated the building in 2021, rebranding it as The Hollingsworth with an address at 70 West 37th Street.

Vanbarton is one of the most active developers converting offices into housing. The company is working on transforming the 1970s era office building at 160 Water Street in the Financial District into 586 apartments. Next door, Vanbarton converted 180 Water Street to 573 units from 2015 to 2017, then sold its stake to conversion partner Metro Loft Management for $450 million.

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