CBS sells longtime HQ Black Rock

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ViacomCBS has sold the iconic “Black Rock” building that serves as the CBS corporate headquarters.

A private real estate investment group called Harbor Group International paid $760 million for the building, which has an address of 51 West 52nd Street in New York City.

Nicknamed for its dark granite sides and black tinted windows, the building was designed by Eero Saarinen, it opened as CBS headquarters in 1965.

ViacomCBS will lease back the floors it uses on a short term basis, but the company has plans to relocate most of these offices to a building in Times Square that served as Viacom’s headquarters prior to the merger, One Astor Plaza.

Viacom leases the building — rather than owning it — and the sale of Black Rock isn’t a surprise; shortly after the Viacom-CBS merger was announced, the company announced it would sell off the 52nd Street building, hoping, at one time, to fetch upwards of $1 billion.

CBS did not have any significant broadcast operations inside of Black Rock — with most of its New York based studios, control rooms and newsrooms housed at the CBS Broadcast Center at 524 West 57th Street. The network has not announced plans to sell the Broadcast Center complex.

Meanwhile, CBS News has announced plans to move “CBS This Morning” out of the broadcast center to a second floor studio at One Astor Plaza with sweeping views of Times Square come the fall of 2021.

The network invested in renovating the former Studio 47, the longtime home of “CBS Evening News,” into a newsroom it dubbed a “hub” that opened in 2018.

That space also has a secondary news set and the complex also features studios for shows such as “The Drew Barrymore Show,” “Inside Edition” and “CBS Sunday Morning.”

CBS also uses the Ed Sullivan Theater as the home of “The Late Show.”

The sale of Black Rock follows the network’s sale of its Television City studio complex in Los Angeles in 2018 for $750 million. CBS has a leaseback agreement with the buyer to continue to use the space as a home base for its west coast operations and shows such as “The Price is Right” and “The Late Late Show.”

CBS has been driven to cash in on its real estate holdings, at least partially, in order to invest in original content production, namely for its streaming service Paramount+.

Selling off real estate typically results in immediate cash flow, though the company still has to pay millions of dollars a year in rent. This type of arrangement, however, can be more appealing if a large influx of cash is needed for current projects since the rent payments come due in the future.