Beijing Vantone Reportedly First Corporate Tenant to Commit to Freedom Tower

Beijing Vantone Real Estate Co. has reportedly signed a nonbinding deal to lease space in the Freedom Tower, making it the first private firm to agree to occupy the 102-story skyscraper now under construction at the former World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan.According to a New York Times report, the space will be used to build the China Center, a combination chamber of commerce and cultural center, on floors 64 through 69 of the Freedom Tower, at the southeast corner of West and Vesey Streets. Vantone has been close to deals at two other sites Downtown–7 World Trade Center and 195 Broadway. The New York Post reported in April that the latter deal may have been deliberately abandoned when the Chinese were given an inside tip on then-Governor Eliot Spitzer’s decision to green light the Freedom Tower.The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey owns the land upon which the Freedom Tower is being built. In a statement, Port Authority chairman Anthony Coscia said, “China Center’s expression of interest in the Freedom Tower, even before we begin our formal leasing program, strengthens our conviction that the World Trade Center site is a world-class business location. Serious interest from the China Center is a major milestone in our efforts to secure Freedom Tower tenants from around the world.”The Partnership for New York City, a business policy and advocacy group, has long supported the creation of the 189,000-square-foot China Center and has agreed to invest up to $5 million in what will be a $90 million project. Vantone’s annual rent will start at about $80 per square foot, about $30 more than what it had negotiated at 7 World Trade Center, according to the Times. The Freedom Tower, expected to be completed in 2012, will rise to 1,776 feet when its antenna mast is included. It is the first of four towers to be built at the 16-acre site. The federal and New York State governments have agreed to lease a total of 1 million square feet, although neither has signed a lease. Cushman & Wakefield is the broker for the tower.