By Daniel Geiger
Rumors are swirling that Nomura, the large Japanese financial company, may renew its 800,000 s/f lease at Two World Financial Center.
Brookfield Properties, owner of the four-building office complex in Lower Manhattan, did not return calls seeking confirmation of the potential transaction.
Conflicting accounts of Nomura’s office decision-making in the city have been reverberating through Manhattan’s real estate industry in recent weeks, a level of attention that reflects the magnitude of the transaction.
For months it appeared that the company was negotiating to relocate from the World Financial Center, where it is currently located, to the midtown office tower Worldwide Plaza.
On Tuesday, many brokers familiar with the company and its real estate search said that Worldwide was still in the hunt and insisted that Nomura would either lease 800,000 s/f or more there or bring at least part of its requirement to the location in order to boost its presence in midtown.
George Comfort & Sons, owners of Worldwide Plaza, a 1.8 million s/f skyscraper along 8th Avenue, had clearly set their sights on doing a deal with Nomura, turning away smaller tenants in recent months in a gamble that it could fill the building’s considerable vacancy in one blockbuster lease with the Japanese firm. (Calls to George Comfort & Sons, the owner of Worldwide Plaza, were not returned.)
But time has ticked on without news of a done deal at Worldwide and many brokers say it’s because Brookfield has scrambled to hold onto the company, which fills a large chunk of the 2.8 million s/f 2 World Financial Center.
Last year, Brookfield was in a similar situation. It was appeared to be in talks to renew the accounting and business consulting firm Deloitte, but the company slipped away late in the negotiations, choosing to do a large deal at Rockefeller Center, instead. The departure of Deloitte, which occupied roughly 500,000 s/f, and other tenants from the World Financial Center, including Merrill Lynch, which is said to be cutting the three million s/f it occupies there in half when its lease comes up for renewal in 2013, has made Nomura too important to lose according to a number of brokers.
Adding to the pressure on Brookfield, across West Street, the World Trade Center is steadily rising and will deliver millions of s/f of brand new, state of the art office space in the coming years, offices that could eat directly into Brookfield’s bottom line. Brookfield has other large blocks of vacancy in its portfolio to contend with as well, including a roughly 400,000 s/f space at the nearby office tower One Liberty Plaza.
John Cefaly, vice chariman of Cushman & Wakefield, who is representing Nomura in its real estate search, also would not return calls seeking comment.