Lady Gaga studio up for sale ... for a cool $27 million

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Story highlights

  • World-famous recording facility, Avatar Studios, is up for sale
  • Madonna's 'Like a Virgin' was recorded in the Manhattan property
  • The owners are selling the studio for around $27 million

(CNN)From B.B. King to Lady Gaga and Eric Clapton, this unassuming building in lower Manhattan has witnessed key moments in music history -- and produced a string of iconic albums along the way.

But after 20 years in the business, Avatar Studios' owners -- husband and wife Kirk and Chieko Imamura -- have put the business up for sale and are looking for someone to preserve its legacy.
    "It's really a one-of-a-kind building that houses a one-of-a-kind studio," says Kirk. "If this building goes away for whatever reason, it's irreplaceable. It would be a real shame."
    The price tag for owning this slice of history? About $27 million.

    Selling a legacy

    It's an irreplaceable legacy indeed.
    David Bowie, Bob Dylan, Cyndi Lauper, Duran Duran and Meatloaf all produced songs here, while Madonna's "Like a Virgin" was recorded at Avatar more than 30 years ago.
    The studio has unique, dome shaped rooms and pine-slat cladding
    But the studio's clients weren't all headed for the hall of fame.
    "During the day we would record jingles or music for advertising," says Kirk of the studio's 24-hour operations.
    "Bruce Springsteen and other rock bands would come in around midnight and work through until the morning -- that's what he did for consecutive nights recording the River."
    The Imamuras are passionate about the studio's legacy and want to ensure that the building, which is housed in a converted power plant, is sold to someone who will use the property as a recording studio.
    "I think that it's my job to find someone who can keep the studio [running]," Chieko Imamura tells CNN.
    It's a tall order. Prime real estate in Manhattan today attracts staggering prices, while the digital era has prompted an industry-wide shift to music being recorded at home rather than in studios.
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    "Sony Music studios used to be next door -- they're now condos. There used to a studio called Hit Factory, one block over, They're condos, " says Kirk.
    "You know there used to be a lot of studios here but they're all pretty much gone, we're probably the only ones standing here."

    Deep pockets

    Avatar Studios is still a profitable business -- it presently caters for the top 5% of music artists and has expanded into recording movie and Broadway soundtracks.
    But any music industry buyer will need to have deep pockets.
    The Imamuras purchased the original studio, which was called the Power Station, for $5.3 million in 1996 -- or nearly $1,900 per square meter.
    Although Kirk won't reveal his exact asking price, he says a New York Times valuation of $27 million is close.