Update: Creating the Big Picture for the WTC Site

At a reception hosted by CoreNet and Silverstein, preeminent developers, tenants and property managers of the WTC site discussed future plans, current signings and past successes on the leasing and development sides.

From left: Moss, Bow, Rubinstein, Bennis and Raynor
July 29, 2011
By Nicholas Ziegler, News Editor

It’s the currently the largest construction project in New York City, it’s approaching the ten-year anniversary of one of the most horrific events in this country’s history and now the World Trade Center is becoming one of the hottest areas in the city’s real estate market. At a reception hosted by the CoreNet Global NYC chapter and Silverstein Properties Inc., some of the preeminent developers, tenants and property managers of the WTC site spoke on Thursday evening about the future of what Downtown could look like.

Tom Bow, senior vice president of leasing for The Durst Organization, Inc., and Jeremy Moss, senior vice president of leasing for Silverstein Properties, represented the management side, focusing on the fact that 7 World Trade Center is more than 90 percent leased and designed to LEED Gold standard.

And the rapidly filling occupancy of the still-under-construction buildings is due, in no small part, to the signing of Condé Nast’s 1-million-square-foot lease this past May at 1 World Trade Center, which opened the door for firms outside of the traditional Downtown milieu of financial-services firms to enter. According to Cushman & Wakefield, the 1 WTC building is more than one-third filled more than three years before the first occupancy is scheduled. “The decision [for other firms] to move in has been alleviated a bit by Condé Nast’s signing,” panel moderator Marcus Raynor, a principal with CresaPartners, said.

On the tenant side, Robert Bennis, managing director of real estate and building services for Condé Nast and Ellis Rubenstein, president and CEO of the New York Academy of Sciences, represented two of the featured leasing firms. The academy’s signing for 7 WTC came in December 2005. “[7 World Trade Center] was and is a place for vision,” Rubenstein said of the decision to move to the new site. “The place gives the staff a feeling of being special.” And the publisher will move into space at the still-being-sold 1 WTC site in either 2014 or 2015, according to prior reports.

Balancing security and the hordes of tourists with tenants’ business needs is going to be a challenging task, with the 9/11 Memorial slated to open to the public on September 12, 2011. “The site is a representation of a terrible event and the memory needs to be kept alive,” Bennis said. “It’s not just a tourist area, and we needed an office space that could adapt.”