US Media Reveals GNA’s Mission in New York is Offering 14 Floors of Libya House for Rent – Al Marsad

The New York Post newspaper published a report revealing the willingness of the United Nations Mission to Libya, headed by Taher El-Sonni, to rent out its headquarters owned by the Libyan state. The report stated that 14 floors of office space in a prime Manhattan location has come to the market with just one caveat: The landlord is a war-torn African country in economic and political upheaval.

The newspaper said in a report published on Wednesday that ”Libya, thrown into chaos after the 2011 ouster of Muammar al-Qaddafi, is renting out 14 floors of its 24-story Permanent Mission to the UN at 309-315 E. 48th St. between First and Second Avenues.”

The newspaper quoted Stuart Siegel, who is representing the country along with his colleague at Commercial Real Estate Services (CBRE) colleague Matt Bergey according to the New York Post newspaper saying that the “Libya House” sign on the front of the building had already been removed from display.

Archival photo of the building entrance showing the sign “Libya House”

“When you walk into the building, you don’t feel like you are dealing with a  government building,” Siegel says of the white marble lobby that’s set back from the street. “No one has said to me they are not coming to see the building because of the ownership,” he said of prospective tenants that have toured the space.

Real estate attorney Steven Sladkus, quoted by New York Post, said that unless there is an embargo against Libya or a reason that the country could detain tenants because it is their “land,” there were no legal issues stopping anyone from rental the property owned by Libya. “There may be a stigma of some kind and a prospective tenant may need to consider if there would be a backlash from their own clients by giving money to a Libyan landlord,” he added.

Three-dimensional image of the building (Google Earth)

However, the newspaper noted that “It’s unclear which Libyan government entity might be in control over coming months and years as Libya wages a complex civil war as extremist groups fight for power”. The UN-backed Government of National Accord of Fayez al-Sarraj is still holding on to power, but that is being challenged by the Libyan National Army which is now inside Tripoli and many analysts say it is only a matter of time until the Sarraj’s government is toppled.

Nevertheless, Siegel believed that the space offered for rent by Taher El-Sonni’s UN Mission may attract financial and tech companies that want large offices or their own space in the Manhattan suburb where country and non-profit missions are located near the United Nations building and the Trump World Tower.

An image of the main entrance and facade of the building.

The New York Post revealed that: “Any tenant taking all 78,870 square feet could even create a building-within-a-building with a private entrance, two dedicated elevators, signage and other perks.” Each small floor space is 5,705 square feet with abundant natural light, with windows stretching the length of the building on both on its north and south sides.

Also, the property includes a 1,500-square-foot terrace comes with the second floor’s event space, and floors 3 through 15 have new bathrooms but are otherwise gutted and ready for fit-outs.

Three-dimensional image of the building (Google Earth)

The New York Post said that the UN Mission, headed by Sonni, is asking for $65 per square foot for rental space.

Property Owned by the Libyan State

The building is owned by the Libyan state, and was purchased by Libya during the previous regime. It was named the Mission House or Libya House because it was designated for the residence of the head of the mission and its employees and their work offices, with additional spaces designated for the residence of large Libyan delegations visiting New York.

The late Colonel Muammar Gaddafi stayed at Libya House during his visit to New York in September 2009. The former Libyan Ambassador to the United Nations, Abdul Rahman Shalgam and his successor Ibrahim Al-Dabbashi and a number of successive foreign ministers and government heads, either worked or resided at Libya House during their visit to the United Nations. This was the purpose of owning the entire building so that it saved the Libyan state from incurring additional rental expenses and provided staff with a high level of security, privacy and confidentiality.

However, it seems that the current mission aligned to the GNA and headed by Taher El-Sonni, whose appointment was overshadowed by massive criticism in Libya, wanted to kept the decision to rent the 14 floors secret from the Libyan public had the scandal not been revealed by the New York Post. While it is still not yet clear whether Sonni, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tripoli as the owner of this sovereign building, have obtained permission from the supervisory authorities or not, or any indication of the purpose of the lease or which Libyan entity will be pocketing the rent.

© Al Marsad English (2020)

Source: New York Post


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