NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- In what might be the most heralded IPO's since Facebook (FB) went public last May, the push by Malkin Properties to take the Empire State Building public continues.Malkin acquired what might be one of the most famous buildings in America in 1961 for $57.5 million, and now has a 15.4% stake in what is part of an ownership group of 2889 (as of Dec. 31) known as Empire State Building Associates L.L.C. In order to proceed with the offering, which would also include several other New York City buildings, the Malkin contingency needs the approval of 80% of the current owners, which it is still pursuing. There are few buildings more iconic than the Empire State Building, which was completed in 1931 at a reported cost of about $41 million. Prior to the completion of the World Trade Center in 1972, it was the tallest building in the U.S. The building itself occupies the entire block front between 33rd and 34th street on Fifth Avenue. With 102 floors and 2.248 million square feet, it's an incredibly valuable piece of real estate, with a recent appraised value of $2.53 billion, located in one of the most desirable and expensive real estate markets in the U.S., and perhaps the world.
According to Empire State Building Association SEC filings, the building was 69% occupied by 256 tenants as of year-end 2012. (Empire State Building Associates does not operate the property, but subleases it to Empire State Building Company L.L.C. owned by the estate of Leona Helmsley.) Total 2012 revenue was $34.4 million, with net income of $10.6 million. The building, land and improvements are carried on the books at $149.6 million net of depreciation.
I'll no doubt be on the sidelines watching the action. As a value investor, I like finding opportunities to own real estate, but it's usually not a centerpiece asset of a particular company, as it would be in this case. Take Saks (SKS) for instance. Best known for its high-end retail business, the company is real estate rich, in particular owning an incredibly valuable piece of real estate on Fifth Avenue in New York, a fact that was perhaps overlooked as the market pushed the stock below $2 back in early 2009. SKS data by YCharts
I'll wait until the dust settles on this one, if indeed it ever comes to market. At the time of publication the author held no positions in any of the stocks mentioned. Follow @JonMHellerCFA This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.