News Corp. and 21st Century Fox Take Step Toward World Trade Center MoveJun 02, 2015
News Corp. and 21st Century Fox, the separate media giants controlled by Rupert Murdoch, have taken a big step toward possibly moving to the World Trade Center.
The two companies on Tuesday signed a non-binding but detailed letter of intent (LOI) with developer Larry Silverstein to anchor 2 World Trade Center, the media firms confirmed. The 80-plus-story skyscraper would complete a quartet of new jumbos built to replace the Twin Towers’ office space destroyed on 9/11.
“The new headquarters would provide 21st Century Fox and News Corp. with a range of efficiencies as well as the flexibility for future growth, while helping cement Lower Manhattan as a dynamic new hub for media,” the companies said in a joint statement.
“While no final decisions have been made, we look forward to continuing to work with Silverstein Properties on the design and terms of our lease arrangement.”
Separately, Larry Silverstein called the tentative agreement “a great milestone” for the WTC and downtown, adding, “A decision by 21st Century Fox and News Corp. to move to the new World Trade Center would cap a seismic shift that has taken place in Lower Manhattan over the past decade.”
News Corp. and 21st Century Fox are currently based at 1185 and 1211 Sixth Ave., where leases for both companies expire in 2020. Those leases might be renewed if a final deal can’t be struck downtown.
A decision to move or stay will likely be made by the end of this year — necessary to plan for the future of thousands of employees, and to work out economic and contractual details of either option.
But the LOI is a meaningful step forward in complex negotiations that have gone on for months between the media firms, Silverstein and the Port Authority, which owns the WTC land. “Although it’s non-binding, having all the basic terms in place will accelerate the pace for both sides,” a source said.
Under the proposed deal, 21st Century Fox and News Corp. would occupy about 1.3 million square feet on lower levels of the 2.8 million-square-foot tower under separate leases. The cost of the new tower is unknown, but each of the WTC’s three other towers costs, or is costing, about $1,000 per square foot.
The parties have tapped cutting-edge Danish architect Bjarke Ingels to design the tower, which would have the address of 200 Greenwich St. and rise immediately north of the nearly finished WTC Transportation Hub.
The building would have to accommodate highly specific needs for studios, newsrooms and open floor plans — as well as some 100,000 square feet of shopping space to be controlled by WTC retail operator Westfield.
The architect’s Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) also designed the Durst Organization’s dramatic, pyramidal apartment and retail project on West 57th Street between 11th and 12th avenues.
Ingels’ 2 WTC design would replace an earlier one for the site by British architect Norman Foster, which was intended mainly for financial firms. But Ingels’ tower would still fit in with site planner Daniel Libeskind’s original location and height rules.
News Corp. divisions at 1211 and 1185 Sixth Ave. include Dow Jones, which publishes the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, and News America Marketing.
Divisions of 21st Century Fox include Fox News Channel, Fox Sports and some film and broadcast television units.
News Corp.’s HarperCollins Publishers will remain at 195 Broadway, where it moved from Midtown a few years ago.
The high-stakes talks over 2 WTC are being conducted by top dealmakers. CBRE’s Mary Ann Tighe, Tim Dempsey and Ken Rapp represent News Corp. and Fox, while CBRE’s Stephen B. Siegel and Ken Myerson are acting for Silverstein. Fried, Frank real estate chairman Jonathan Mechanic is the legal adviser to the media companies.