By Daniel Geiger
The law firm WilmerHale is said to be in talks for a roughly 200,000 s/f lease at 7 World Trade Center, according to multiple sources with knowledge of the negotiations.
Last month, the law firm was abruptly bumped from Worldwide Plaza, where it had been close to signing a lease, after the building’s landlord decided instead to pursue a deal for the bulk of tower’s vacancy with the Japanese financial company Nomura.
The incident left partners at WilmerHale, whose current lease at 399 Park Avenue is set to expire, feeling slighted for the way George Comfort & Sons, the investment company that owns Worldwide, passed them over just for a chance at the bigger lease.
A deal at 7 World Trade Center would be a quick turnaround, not to mention a dramatic change of location for the firm, relocating from 399 Park Avenue, which is located along one of midtown’s prime office corridors, to Lower Manhattan. Brokers and real estate experts say that the availability of large blocks of space, particularly in midtown, has begun to taper off compared to the number of big tenants who are either openly shopping for offices or rumored to be in the market.
If WilmerHale goes downtown, it could serve as an example of how the area is beginning to function again as an area for tenants who either can’t find space in midtown or can’t afford its rents.
7 World Trade Center, which was developed by the real estate builder and investor Larry Silverstein in the mid 2000s, for its part, is known as one of the city’s best and most modern office properties. It wasn’t clear at the time of this report what floors WilmerHale was negotiating for, but a block of space roughly 400,000 s/f in size exists near the top of the 50-story tower.
With the bulk of the building leased, Silverstein has been patient in filling the remaining pocket of space, holding out even during the bottom of the recession for rents in the $60s per s/f, well above what most other downtown properties charge. According to the online commercial real estate database MrOfficeSpace.com, floors 41 through 49, and the 37th floor are available. Each floor in the 1.7 millions s/f tower is about 42,000 s/f in size on average, meaning that WilmerHale is likely in talks for about five floors.
A team from the real estate services firm CB Richard Ellis led by company executives Brad Gerla and Adam Foster, handles leasing at 7 World Trade Center. Both said they couldn’t comment for this story. WilmerHale’s rep, Mitchell Steir, chief executive of the real estate services firm Studley, didn’t respond to a request for comment. William Perlstein, a partner at WilmerHale who has been involved in its space search, also didn’t respond to requests for comment.