Wanted: companies keen on moving in to the tallest skyscraper in New York.
One World Trade Center, the physical icon of the city’s recovery from a devastating attack, is throwing open its doors to potential tenants.
On Thursday, the building’s developers unveiled a model office on the 63rd floor complete with commanding views of New York harbour.
The move is part of a drive to lure commercial tenants but it is also a kind of coming-out party. After years of construction, the 104-storey building is now months away from becoming a functional office space, rather than an unfinished tower fenced off from the rest of the city.
The advent of the marketing centre is a big step “in being able to showcase what is possible,” said Eric Engelhardt, director of leasing at One WTC for the Durst Organization, which is developing the building together with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
By next summer, he said, the fences surrounding the site will start to come down. “One World Trade will be a real place … in a real, integrated neighbourhood,” he said.
More than 55 per cent of the space in the building is already leased. The first tenant will be publishing giant Condé Nast, which is taking possession of its new headquarters at the start of 2014 and shifting its employees there in the latter part of the year.
Other announced tenants include the U.S. General Services Administration, an arm of the federal government, and Vantone Holdings Co. Ltd., a Chinese real estate investment firm.
The building will also feature an observation deck from floors 100 to 102, which is expected to attract 3.8 million visitors a year.
A shining column of glass and steel originally named the Freedom Tower, One WTC is the chief symbol of the 12-year effort to rebuild lower Manhattan after the two original skyscrapers were destroyed in the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.
One WTC stands 1,776 feet tall, a nod to the year the country declared its independence from Britain. The steel for the giant antenna that tops the building was supplied by Canada’s ADF Group Inc.
The developers say the 540-metre high tower is the tallest in the United States. An official determination is expected early next month from the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, a Chicago-based non-profit. At issue: whether the huge antenna atop the building is a structural spire that should count as part of its height.
To visit the building is a slightly surreal experience. Reaching it involves winding through an active construction site dotted with cement trucks and excavators before arriving in the lobby, a soaring space with 15-metre high ceilings and walls of white Italian marble. In a little more than thirty seconds, an elevator spirits you up more than sixty storeys.
The marketing centre features a wide-open floor plan and panoramic views. At one point a helicopter flew by, at eye level, on its way up the Hudson River. There is a mock boardroom, work stations and even a lounge-type area. Such space will rent for $75 (U.S.) per square foot, while even higher floors will be more expensive.
The building overlooks the National September 11 Memorial and Museum and security is an obvious concern. “People do ask about it, but it’s not the first thing they ask,” said Douglas Durst, the chairman of the Durst Organization, who described the building as “amazingly safe.”
It has a special elevator designated for firefighters. The stairways, meanwhile, are located in a central core which is surrounded by concrete walls roughly a metre thick (it’s “like a bunker,” said a member of the leasing team).
There is also a separate vehicle security centre serving all the buildings on the World Trade Center site: Cars and trucks will be screened before travelling on an underground road to each tower’s loading dock and parking area.
At the moment there is a lively competition to attract tenants to the area: two other towers – 2 and 3 World Trade Center – are currently under construction, while 4 World Trade Center, a new 72-storey tower, is set to open to the public next month.