Thor hammers out purchase on Eighth Avenue

The developer pays $12M for a 7,000-square-foot retail condo currently occupied by a porn shop, just up the avenue from the retail space Thor bought for $65 million in July at the Milford NY Hotel.

The love affair between Thor Equities and Eighth Avenue deepens. The real estate development company recently paid more than $12 million to purchase the 7,000-square-foot retail condo at 725 Eighth Ave., according to the broker who handled the transaction for the seller.

The two-story property at West 45th Street includes a 1,600-square-foot basement, 1,800 square feet on the ground floor, and 1,800 on the second floor. Two mezzanines bring the total size to nearly 7,000 square feet of usable space. The seller, 725 Eighth Avenue Realty, has owned the building for well over a decade and formerly operated a pawn shop on the ground floor. The asking price was $13 million.

The building’s sale is a sign of the area’s changing face from the seedy video shops and fast-food outlets of yesterday to Times Square’s newer breed of trendy tenants. The current tenant in the space is DVD Depot, which deals in adult films and has been there for more than a decade. It is on a month-to-month lease and not expected to remain at the site.

“Eighth Avenue is a very funny street,” said Aaron Gavios, chief executive of Square Foot Realty, which represented 725 Eighth Avenue Realty in the building’s sale, noting that the neighborhood’s retail is in transition. “Porn stores are on their way out and almost gone,” he said. “Spaces are getting to be priced higher and higher.”

A decade ago, ground floor asking retail rents on the strip were near $200 a square foot, but today are 50% higher, after a dip during the recession. Earlier this year, Square Foot was involved in leasing space at 729 Eighth Ave. to Pie Face, the Australian pie company that has been eating up large chunks of retail space in midtown, for an asking rent of $330 a square foot.

A spokesman for midtown-based Thor Equities declined to comment. The company headed by Joseph Sitt has been gobbling up space in the neighborhood, however. In July, it purchased the 27,500-square-foot retail portion of the Milford New York Hotel at 700 Eighth Ave. for about $65 million.

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