By Daniel Geiger
Havas, the French advertising firm, is in talks to potentially take as much as 300,000 s/f at 60 Hudson Street multiple sources with knowledge of the negotiations say. The space would be used to bring several of the advertising company’s Manhattan subsidiaries under one roof according to people familiar with the firm’s real estate goals.
Havas owns several large ad companies in the city, including Arnold Worldwide, the Abernathy MacGregor Group, and MPG, among others. Casting some uncertainty on the possible deal, sources said that the company’s plan to consolidate has also been tricky to execute because these different units have varying lease expirations, meaning that Havas would likely be left holding some of the vacant spaces left behind in a move to Hudson Street.
Havas has been in the market for months, searching for space with a high power brokerage team from the real estate services firm Newmark Knight Frank, led by that company’s chief executive Barry Gosin and Newmark’s New York area president David Falk. Gosin couldn’t be reached for comment about the potential deal, and Falk said that he couldn’t comment.
A number of sources who have observed the firm in the market say that it has been exploring various options to bring its units together into one facility, which could foster operational efficiencies and create better alignment between the company’s different subsidiaries. MPG for instance, which occupies close to 100,000 s/f at the downtown office building 195 Broadway, considered a possible expansion at that property but determined that there wasn’t enough vacancy in the building to accommodate Havas’s needs.
In an email, Lynn Power, Arnold Worldwide’s New York area president, said she was “not sure yet how things will shake out,” with the consolidation. ArnoldNYC, as the company’s Manhattan based operations are known, occupies almost 90,000 s/f at 110 Fifth Avenue. Abernathy MacGregor, a public relations and crisis management firm, has less than 20,000 s/f at 501 Madison Avenue.
Since Havas began its search last year for space, the office market in the city has appeared to tighten, especially for large blocks, which have been snapped up by big tenants who see the current market conditions in a cyclical low and have moved to seize on the opportunity. The increasing sense that openings are dwindling could be a driver in the company’s possible deal at 60 Hudson even though it might entail difficult logistics.
MPG has at least three years left on its lease according to a knowledgeable source and other subsidiaries may also have years similar overhang, which would likely leave Havas with vacant leftovers that would be hard to sublease. Still, if the company waits for a more convenient moment in the future to do its deal, it may find itself faced with little vacancy and significantly higher rents. If Havas gets a deal done at 60 Hudson, it could signal a shift in market that tenants are beginning to treat their space needs more urgently.
Press contacts at Havas’s world headquarters in France did not return calls or emails by press time. Robert Getreu, a broker with the real estate company Colliers International who handles leasing at 60 Hudson Street, also couldn’t be reached for comment. The building used to be the headquarters of the money transfer and communications company Western Union, which equipped the nearly one million s/f property with unique infrastructure, including fiber optics and various other cabling that run beneath it and up Manhattan’s far West Side, linking to a number of other buildings known for their connection to telecommunications conduit, including 32 Avenue of the Americas and 111 Eighth Avenue.