Publisher Conde Nast to sign $2B WTC tower lease

May 25, 2011 - 3:15 AM

NEW YORK (AP) — Magazine publisher Conde Nast will announce Wednesday that it has signed a $2 billion lease to house its new offices at 1 World Trade Center, the centerpiece of a redeveloped ground zero that will be the tallest building in the U.S. upon its completion.

An official briefed on the negotiations told The Associated Press that executives at the publisher and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the trade center site, are expected to make the announcement at 3 p.m. after a scheduled vote by the Port Authority board on the 25-year lease.

Conde Nast, which publishes Vogue, Vanity Fair and The New Yorker among other magazines, will move 5,000 employees into a million square feet of office space at the 1,776-foot tower, said the official, who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the official is not authorized to speak publicly before the deal is announced.

A spokeswoman for Conde Nast didn't return a call for comment Tuesday.

The steel frame of the tower now reaches 66 stories of a planned 104 designed to punctuate the rebuilt site of the World Trade Center, which was destroyed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The building, formerly known as the Freedom Tower, is slated for completion in late 2013.

The skyscraper is one of several envisioned at the site, along with a Sept. 11 memorial, transit hub and performing arts center.

Julie Menin, chairwoman of the community board that covers the World Trade Center site, said she expected the company's arrival to spark growth in restaurants, retail and amenities.

"This is great news for downtown and hopefully will be a harbinger of many other leases to come," she said.

The search for an anchor tenant from the private sector had lasted years, through complex and sometimes contentious dealings with multiple stakeholders.

"There were a lot of bumps along the way, but this will be an incredible testament to the citizens of our city, of how we have rebuilt," said William C. Rudin, chairman of the civic group Association for a Better New York.

Conde Nast's move from midtown Manhattan to lower Manhattan was a natural progression, Rudin said. Cost-conscious publishers who weathered an industrywide downturn as advertising rates plummeted and viewers migrated online were eager to get better deals for their money, he said, and lower Manhattan frequently offers more space at a variety of price points.