Posts Tagged ‘World Trade Center’

Viacom Inks New York’s Largest Lease Ever

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012

In what may be the largest-ever Manhattan office lease, Viacom, Inc., has committed itself to remaining a tenant in SL Green Realty Corp.’s 56-story, two million SF 1515 Broadway through 2031,  Viacom is the company behind major cable networks such as MTV, Nickelodeon and BET.  The media company will expand into 1.6 million SF, which is expected to comprise the balance of the building’s office space after 2020.

Marc Holliday, SL Green’s CEO, said the decision to remain in Times Square was based on the company’s long-term presence in the market.  “The company has been a corporate anchor in Times Square for over 20 years and the extraordinary building branding opportunity provided in this lease will allow Viacom to increase its corporate visibility to millions of New York City visitors at the ‘Crossroads of the World’ for years to come,” he said.  “The transaction reaffirms the desirability for trophy assets located in the prime areas of Midtown Manhattan.”

It’s a seminal moment for New York City and Times Square,” said Andrew Mathias, SL Green president.  ”  The transaction puts to rest speculation that Viacom might depart Times Square after its leases expire in 2015,” as Manhattan projects such as the World Trade Center and Hudson Yards try to attract anchor tenants.

SL Green bought 1515 Broadway during the market downturn of 2002. Over the last decade, the building had an extensive makeover which included repositioning of all retail space, a complete redevelopment and revenue enhancement with LED advertising signage.  In addition to being anchored by Viacom, the building is home to the Minskoff Theater, one of the city’s largest live performance theaters and Best Buy Theater, which has become New York’s premier rock concert venue.

A New Chapter for Iconic Empire State Building

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

The landmark 102-story Empire State Building in midtown Manhattan could raise as much as $1 billion in a share sale and become a real estate investment trust (REIT), if the company that controls that iconic structure if its plans pan out.  According to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing, Empire State Realty Trust, Inc., intends to list the shares on the New York Stock Exchange.  The firm, Malkin Holdings, LLC, will consolidate a group of closely held companies to form the REIT as part of the IPO, according to a separate filing.

Malkin, supervisor of the company the holds the title to the tower, said that it had “embarked on a course of action” that could result in the Empire State Building becoming part of a new REIT.  Malkin Holdings supervises property-owning partnerships led by Peter and Anthony Malkin, and owns the 2.9 million-square-foot Empire State Building in conjunction with the estate of Leona Helmsley.  Bank of America, Merrill Lynch and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. will advise on the IPO.  The price and number of shares were not disclosed in the filing.

The proposed IPO would give investors a rare opportunity to own a piece of one of the world’s most famous buildings as New York’s real estate values rebound after the recession.  Midtown Manhattan office property prices have recovered 87 percent of their value since bottoming out in mid-2009, according to Green Street Advisors Inc., a REIT research firm.

The REIT would consolidate Manhattan and New York area properties owned by companies including Empire State Building Associates LLC, 60 East 42nd St. Associates LLC and 250 West 57th St. Associates LLC. Participants can opt to receive cash instead of shares for as much as 15 percent of the value.

Since gaining control of the building 10 years ago, Malkin has invested tens of millions of dollars to improve the office spaces and cut the cost of heating and maintaining the 81-year-old structure.  That helped attract tenants such as social networking site LinkedIn.  According to the SEC filing, Malkin said that upgrading the building still requires additional investment of between $55 million and $65 million over the next four years.

As with many recent tech and internet IPOs, the company plans to have two classes of stock — class A shares that are sold to the public and worth one vote, as well as class B shares with 50 votes each.  The structure leaves the Malkin family with significant control.  The proceeds will pay existing stakeholders in the buildings who chose to take cash in exchange for their interests, and to repay debt.  The REIT will list itself on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “ESB.”

The Malkins realize that leasing in New York is “highly competitive,” and faces new rivals in the skyline, primarily the One World Trade Center, which will have a broadcast antenna and observation deck that could attract tenants away from the Empire State Building.

At 1,250 feet and 102 floors, the art deco-style building is one of New York City’s most recognizable tourist destinations, enjoying its second stint as the city’s tallest building.  It was the world’s tallest building from its 1931 opening until 1974, when the 442-meter Sears Tower (now Willis Tower) was completed in Chicago.

The building played a starring role in several movies, most notably “King Kong,” “An Affair to Remember” and “Sleepless in Seattle.”

New World Trade Center Is Rising From the Ashes

Monday, September 12th, 2011

In the nearly 10 years since the 9/11 tragedy, the site that once seemed impossible to redevelop is very much alive.  The World Trade Center redevelopment and the electrifying changes going on in Downtown New York City — 56,000 new residents (doubled that of before the attacks) and 300 new tenants (since 2005) must be onto something good. The site’s transformation has been “a piece of cake,” quipped Silverstein Properties CEO Larry Silverstein. We’re seeing a quick metamorphosis Downtown, and the impact on values is just beginning, according to Silverstein. “It’s nothing short of extraordinary.” The site will have as much impact (if not more) as Rockefeller Center was to New York City in the 1930s. 

Construction on 1 WTC and 7 WTC is progressing, the latter to be the last of the towers to collapse on 9/11 and the first to be rebuilt.  At 1,776 feet in terms of structural height, with the spire, 1 WTC will be the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, taller than the Willis Tower in Chicago. The structural steel for the 72-floor 4 WTC is currently at 40 stories with completion planned for 2013 and will have 2.3M RSF.  The expected completion dates for all of the WTC properties are: the National September 11 Memorial & Museum this year; 1 WTC, the vehicle security center, and 4 WTC in 2013; the transportation hub in 2014; 3 WTC in 2015; and 2 WTC beyond that.

According to the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, “LMDC is charged with assisting New York City in recovering from the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and ensuring the emergence of Lower Manhattan as a strong and vibrant community. The centerpiece of these efforts is the creation of a permanent Memorial remembering and honoring the thousands of innocent men, women and children lost in the terrorist attacks. The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation was created in the aftermath of September 11, 2001 by then-Governor George Pataki and then-Mayor Rudolph Giuliani to help plan and coordinate the rebuilding and revitalization of Lower Manhattan, defined as everything south of Houston Street.  . LMDC is charged with ensuring Lower Manhattan recovers from the attacks and emerges even better than it was before. The centerpiece of LMDC’s efforts is the creation of a permanent memorial honoring those lost, while affirming the democratic values that came under attack on September 11.”

 Writing on the Plots and Plans website, Carter B. Horsley says that “In the best of all cities, if not worlds, the design for a redeveloped World Trade Center site would include a memorial for the almost three thousand people lost in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that demolished the center’s twin towers, a decked-over West Street to reunite Battery Park City with the rest of Lower Manhattan, an expanded transportation terminal that would better unite Downtown with Midtown and the rest of the Metropolitan region, and a stunning new architectural project that would reassert Manhattan’s international architectural prominence. The redevelopment should also afford the city the opportunity to significantly bolster the downtown community’s cultural assets with the inclusion of some important institutions such as new homes for the Museum of the City of New York and the New York City Opera. Fortunately, the site is large enough to accommodate all of these components as well as meeting the contractual needs of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey to replace the 11 million square feet of commercial and retail space that had existed on the site.”

“After 9/11, we found ourselves with a clear mission to rebuild 7 World Trade Center quickly,” said Robin Panovka, a partner at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen and Katz, who provides legal counsel to Silverstein Properties. “But there were tremendous obstacles in the way, and it’s really how those obstacles were overcome, through cooperation with the Port Authority and the other players, that led to rebuilding of 7 World Trade Center and is now leading to the rebuilding of the larger site where the Twin Towers once stood,” Panovka said. “The result is this beautiful building, 7 World Trade Center, built partly on land the builder didn’t yet own or lease, without customary agreements among the major stakeholders.  It’s that kind of cooperation, vision and guts that led to the success of this building and is fueling the rebuilding of the whole World Trade Center site.” 

As the world’s largest and most complex construction site, the new World Trade Center will be home to a national memorial and museum of emotional and engineering complexity, the nation’s tallest skyscraper, a transportation hub that will serve 250,000 commuters every day, and upscale retail. It will also be home to thousands of workers moving into 10 million SF of new office space.

Will Anyone Collect Osama bin Laden’s $50 Million Bounty?

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

Now that the nearly 10-year-long manhunt for Osama bin Laden has ended, the question remains of what to do with the $50 million reward on the Al Qaeda leader? New York Representatives Anthony Weiner and Jerry Nadler have introduced a bill in Congress that would direct the money to groups that have helped those affected move on with their lives.  “If the bounty isn’t paid, Osama bin Laden’s victims should get it,” Weiner said, noting that “families and groups who helped deal with survivors of 9/11” should “benefit.”  Nadler added that the money “was allocated for 9/11 victims in effect, and this is simply saying to use it more effectively for the purpose that it was set up for in the first place.”

The State Department offered up a $25 million reward for bin Laden in 2001; in 2004, then-Senator Hillary Clinton of New York led the effort to pass a bill that would give the secretary of state the discretion to raise that total to $50 million.

The Obama administration appears to oppose Nadler’s and Weiner’s proposal.  White House spokesman Jay Carney said that no one took the necessary steps to make themselves eligible for the sum.  “As far as I’m aware, no one knowledgeably said, oh, Osama bin Laden’s over here in Abbottabad at 5703 Green Avenue,” Carney said.  “My sense is that the requirement for any kind of reward is to say that — not to accidentally, through intelligence gathering, provide information that leads to the whereabouts of somebody like that.”

Gary Faulkner, an American who went to Pakistan last year to hunt for bin Laden  — albeit unsuccessfully — thinks he deserves a share of the $50 million.  Several petitions and websites think the money should go directly to the Navy SEALs team that caught bin Laden, even though as government employees they are not entitled to reap the reward.  A third option would be for the government to keep the money, sparing the deficit another $25 million-$50 million dent.  In fact, there is no money set aside for the bin Laden reward.  But while the State Department maintains a broader fund that is used to pay for these kinds of rewards, there is no designated bin Laden reward money waiting to be collected.  Officials have said the information that pinpointed bin Laden’s location came from multiple sources and intelligence gathering efforts.  No single source was responsible for the intelligence that led to the end of the hunt for the terrorist leader.

John Feal, a Ground Zero construction veteran and advocate said 9/11 rescuers still bear the scars of that day, and could use the funds.  “If it was up to me it would be called the ‘No Responder Left Behind Act’ because my attitude now is we will not leave anybody behind who’s affected by 9/11,” Feal said.  His FealGood Foundation helped finance the funerals of five Ground Zero responders and workers in the past two months.

Bernie Madoff Pays the Price

Monday, July 20th, 2009

Ponzi scheme swindler Bernie Madoff has some notorious neighbors at the federal prison in Butner, NC, that he now calls home.  According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons, the medium-security Butner facility houses 3,400 inmates, including Omar Abdel-Rahman, the terrorist known as the “Blind Sheik”, who plotted the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.  Also imprisoned in Butner are John Rigas, the former Adelphia Communications CEO; Jonathan Pollard, the former Naval Intelligence Analyst convicted of spying for Israel; and Russell Westonmadoff_bars_090630_mn, who murdered two U.S. Capital Police officers in 1998.

Since receiving his 150-year sentence on June 29, Madoff had been held in a federal lockup in Manhattan.  He pleaded guilty in March to securities fraud, money laundering and perjury charges.

“One of the most difficult things to deal with in prison is the reality that you are powerless,” according to Jonathan Richards, author of Federal Prison – A Comprehensive Survival Guide, who served time in a minimum-security prison.  “Your whole life you basically eat when you want to eat, sleep when you want to sleep, wear what you want to wear.  Then, suddenly, this daily freedom is taken away.”

Madoff will be able to write and receive letters, make limited phone calls for 25 cents a minute and possibly have access to monitored email messages.  He wears a prison khaki wardrobe; the food is just edible; and exercise consists of pacing within an outdoor cage.  Family and friends can visit once Madoff settles into prison life.  Additionally, Madoff will be put to work for low wages – menial tasks such as sweeping floors.