Just in time for Black Friday’s shopping crush comes word that the future retail experience planned for the World Trade Center site is still in flux but will likely open for business by Thanksgiving 2014.
In the meantime, the ongoing uncertainty about what is coming and who is in charge is causing angst among retail brokers, who say their clients want clarity before making decisions about shops in other downtown locations.
“They want to see what is going on at the World Trade Center site first,” said a retail broker on condition of anonymity.
Those who previously had shops at the WTC are eager to return, while those that didn’t are counting down the days until they can get stores in front of thousands of tower and area workers and 55,000 area residents, along with the millions expected to visit the memorial site.
You may recall that Westfield America had been tapped as Larry Silverstein‘s partner in the original Twin Towers deal in 2001..
Westfield jumped in and out of the deal and, for at least the last several years, has been in negotiations off and on with the Port Authority’s powers-that-be to manage, lease and operate roughly 400,000 square feet of retail development.
“We will be the Port’s retail partner,” insisted Westfield’s Group Managing Director Peter Lowy yesterday.
“You won’t get a better world-class retail offering at the World Trade Center from anybody else but Westfield.”
Westfield is the largest retail mall operator in the world and has relationships with major European, Asian and American retailers.
Westfield’s original “opt out” agreement calls for them to have the right of first offer and a six-month negotiation period.
Lowy just laughed when asked about when that time period actually started, because essentially they have been talking for nine years.
At this time, however, Westfield has made a proposal and is waiting for the Port to respond.
Although the Port had been in a rush to get an agreement signed by the end of this year, officials have since eased off their schedule, sources say, while still wrapping up final agreements with the Durst Organization, which has been chosen to manage and lease One World Trade Center.
Retail brokers complain about the lack of plans and the scrapping of what was previously shown to them.
In fact, all of that is still in flux, sources say, because there is underground architectural work to complete before retail planning can occur.
And due to fluctuating market conditions, rents and ever-changing retail experiences, leasing can’t take place much more than 15 to 18 months before the buildings are completed.
Sources say that if an agreement with Westfield is not completed by the end of the year, a new request for proposals could be sent out to find another operator.
But there is still that sticky right of first offer and six-month negotiating period to contend with — issues that could, of course, tie up any new RFP in court and delay retail development by another few years.
A spokesman for the Port Authority said they are still negotiating and that no other RFP is planned. Keep your fingers crossed and stay tuned.
Oppenheimer & Co. joins the group of tenants negotiating for a slice of the former Goldman Sachs headquarters at 85 Broad St.
Sources say Oppenheimer’s 300,000-square-foot requirement search is being led by Mitchell Konsker and Matt Astrachan of Cushman & Wakefield. C&W declined comment.
The downtown building is being marketed for leasing by Peter Riguardi, area president of Jones Lang LaSalle, who would not discuss specific tenants.
Riguardi did share, “We have a number of tenants we are talking to seriously.”
The asking rent for the technologically advanced building is $50 a foot, a big discount to Midtown Class A rents that are running in the $70s a foot.
Foreign currency risk manager FX Concepts will move to 23,000 square feet comprising the entire 30th floor of 3 Park Ave. for the next 13 years.
It will relocate to the tower of the Charles S. Cohen-owned building from 225 W. 34th St. in late 2011.
Charles Borrock, vice chairman of Cushman & Wakefield, led the tenant’s team, while David Nevins of Cohen Brothers Realty represented the building owner in-house.
In the same building, home furnishings and fabric company, P/Kaufmann renewed and expanded to a total of 50,400 square feet.
It currently has 27,400 square feet on the 35th floor and leased an ad ditional 23,000 feet on the 34th floor for 12 more years.
Bob Savitt, Marc Schoen and Brian Neugeboren of Savitt Partners represented P/Kaufmann in the renewal and expansion transaction, while Nevins and Steven Lambert of Cohen Brothers handled the ownership in-house.
The deals continue Cohen’s sudden leasing charge now that Cushman & Wakefield’s Bruce Mosler is overseeing the account. [email protected]