By Steve Cuozzo | New York Post
In a major step forward for Downtown, media giant GroupM and developer Larry Silverstein today agreed on major terms of a huge lease at 3 World Trade Center, The Post has learned.
The deal is likely to be completed by fall. It will allow the tower, now on hold at seven stories, to soar skyward to its full 80-story height starting next year and open in late 2016.
Real-estate and advertising industry sources said GroupM, the media buying and planning arm of WPP Group, will take 515,000 square feet for 20 years in the tower designed by “starchitect” Richard Rogers.
The 2.5 million square-foot project, officially named 175 Greenwich St., will rise between Silverstein’s 4 WTC and the Santiago Calatrava-designed PATH terminal. A retail base is nearly completed, but Silverstein cannot build higher without first signing a major office tenant.
Today’s signed agreement, known as a term sheet, is not the same as a done deal. But term sheets lead to leases about 95 percent of the time. The completed lease will trigger $1.3 billion in Liberty Bond financing that will enable Silverstein to start full construction.
GroupM plans to take 9 floors in 3 WTC’s lower office portion, including five floors of 70,000 square feet each, sources said. The firm hopes to move more than 3,000 employees from several Midtown locations to 3 WTC in 2017.
Financial terms could not immediately be determined. Representatives for Silverstein and for GroupM did not return calls.
The Silverstein-GroupM talks were first buzzed about last year but could have fallen apart at any time.
The seven-story “podium” was needed to house a 183,000 square-foot shopping complex and to provide infrastructure for the rest of the WTC site.
The GroupM breakthrough helps the WTC regain leasing momentum it recently appeared to have lost to Hudson Yards, where Related Cos. is building a new headquarters for Coach Inc. and has a term sheet to do the same for Time Warner.
Two of four planned office towers at the WTC are already nearing completion. A finished 3 WTC will leave only 2 WTC, designed by Sir Norman Foster, yet to be built at the 16-acre site.
Condé Nast is the anchor tenant for the Port Authority and the Durst Organization’s 1 WTC.
WPP’s GroupM describes itself as the world’s biggest media investment firm with $90.8 billion in billings last year and 400 offices in 81 countries. It is the parent of media agencies including Maxus, MEC, MediaCom, Mindshare and Kinetic.