Steve Cuozzo of the New York Post broke some major news out of the World Trade Center site earlier this week. GroupM – a division of WPP – has signed a term sheet for 515,000 square feet at Silverstein Properties’ 3 World Trade Center. Standing at 175 Greenwich Street, the planned 71-story tower designed by the Pritzker Prize-winning architect Richard Rogers was to remain topped out at seven stories until Silverstein found an anchor tenant. Now, once the lease is signed (the term sheet just lays out major deal points that will be incorporated into the formal lease document), Silverstein can tap the $1.3 billion in Liberty Bond financing backed by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey in order to complete construction of the $2 billion project. That’s slated to happen sometime in 2016.
When completed, 3 WTC will be New York City’s third tallest building. The tower will include 2.1 million square feet of office space, 133,000 square feet of retail space across five floors (including two below grade), mechanical floors at both base and crown of the tower, and a soaring 63-foot street-level atrium and transit lobby. Along with the other new World Trade Center towers, the project will aim for LEED Gold certification from USGBC – nearly a third of its power requirements will come from fuel cells already operating at the World Trade Center site.
Architecturally, 3 WTC occupies an important position within the redeveloped WTC master plan. As the middle Greenwich Street tower, it stands directly along the axis created by the World Trade Center Memorial’s reflecting pools. So Rogers’ design emphasizes the tower’s verticality through a diamond pattern of trusses that, in addition to serving as exterior bracing, allow the building’s corners to remain column-free. With 1 WTC and 4 WTC both well on their way to occupancy, Norman Foster’s 2 World Trade Center is the lone tower holdout from the site’s overall master redevelopment plan.
The pending GroupM transaction is exciting for many reasons, not the least of which is that it comes after a spate of transactions at Related’s Hudson Yards – Coach, L’Oreal, SAP, and soon Time Warner, perhaps – which had kept the World Trade Center in the (relative) background in recent months. But it also solidifies the trend of media companies relocating Downtown – closer to Brooklyn and New Jersey where most creative industry workers tend to reside (at least according to a recent Downtown Alliance survey). As Mr. Cuozzo also notes in the Post, the deal “vindicates the developer’s faith in a site many had once given up for dead — and also, the enduring appeal of brand-new state-of-the-art office construction to modern media companies.” We’d add that part of that appeal – particularly for the demographic that makes up the modern media company’s workforce – is the efficient, environment-friendly caliber of newly constructed Class A office space.
GroupM is part of the global media company WPP. It has 400 offices in 81 countries and generated $90 billion in revenue in 2012. It’s also the parent entity to the Maxus, MEC, Media.com, Mindshare, and Kinetic media agencies and is currently located at 498 Sventh Avenue in the Garment District. All of those brands will consolidate with GroupM on the lower nine floors of 3 WTC. Five of those floors have 70,000 square-foot floor plates that – although initially conceived for financial services firms before the 2008 crash – are turning out to be perfect for the open types of floor plans that today’s media and creative industry firms are looking for.
Mr. Silverstein’s faith in New York City’s enduring appeal for both business and pleasure is inspiring. Quickly rebuilding the new 7 World Trade Center without an anchor tenant completely on spec and then subsequently leasing it up demonstrated his commitment to rebuilding our great city in the aftermath of September 11. GroupM’s term sheet is another important milestone in the redevelopment of what is destined to become one of the world’s great commercial real estate destinations, anchored by some truly impressive pieces of high-rise architecture implementing green building technologies and principles on an unprecedented scale.
Image credits: RSH + Partners via Silverstein Properties