Brookfield Woos Law Firm to Far West Side

Global law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom has set a precedent with a tower on the Far West Side waiting to be built.
Dennis Friedrich

Dennis Friedrich, Brookfield

With a 20-year lease secured from an anchor tenant – global law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom L.L.P. – for 550,000 square feet, Brookfield Property Partners, L.P., plans to start construction of One Manhattan West, its 2.1 million-square-foot office tower on Manhattan’s Far West Side.

Skadden confirmed this week it is leaving its current home at 4 Times Square, where it leases about 826,000 square feet. The law firm will take floors 28 to 43 of the 67-story skyscraper for its New York headquarters when its lease expires in 2020 at The Durst Organization-owned building.

“We look forward to moving to a state-of-the-art building at Manhattan West, and to being part of New York City’s  most dynamic new neighborhood,” Eric Friedman, Skadden’s executive partner, said in a joint release with Brookfield.

Bloomberg and other New York City media are reporting that Brookfield is trying to sign another big legal tenant at One Manhattan West.

Midtown and Downtown Manhattan are among the areas JLL cited in its U.S. Law Firm Perspective 2014 as in a rising phase for law offices. A markets report last fall from Cassidy Turley, now known as DTZ, showed several expansions in the Manhattan market for law firms, including the long-term lease announced last April by global firm White & Case L.LP. for about 440,000 square feet at 1221 Avenue of the Americas starting in 2017.

One Manhattan West will be the first of two commercial buildings erected at Brookfield’s $4.5 billion mixed-used project at a five-acre site at Ninth Avenue and 33rd Street. When completed, Manhattan West will consist of 7 million square feet of office, residential and retail in the burgeoning Hudson Yards district. The developer is also building an 844-unit residential tower at 435 W. 31st St. and spending $200 million to upgrade 450 W. 33rd St., a 16-story, 1.8 million-square-foot office building that will be called Five Manhattan West. A five-star hotel, retail, restaurants and a two-acre part will also be part of Manhattan West.

In November, Brookfield completed the concrete platform that needed to be built over the rail yards that lead to Penn Station. Construction on the $680 million platform began in January 2013.

Manhattan West is one of several mega-projects underway on the Far West side of New York City. Related Cos. and Oxford Properties Group have started construction on the largest, the $15 billion, 28-acre mixed-use development known as Hudson Yards. Other office towers are rising in Midtown Manhattan and Lower Manhattan, where One World Trade Center opened in the fall with Conde Nast as its anchor tenant. Conde Nast was also a tenant at 4 Times Square, where it leased more than 800,000 square feet. Information on possible new tenants for either the Conde Nast or Skadden space at the Durst-owned property was not available.

One thing is clear; the Manhattan skyline is changing again.

“This is an exciting time to be building an entirely new neighborhood anchored by Class A office towers that will redefine the west midtown skyline,” Brookfield CEO Dennis Friedrich said in a prepared statement. “When this building opens in 2019, it will be home to Skadden and other exceptional companies from New York and around the world, and Manhattan West will have established itself as a dramatic, vibrant mixed-use community.”