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One World Trade Center Gains First Tenant

Port Authority Strikes Long-Expected Deal with Vantone Industrial Co. to Create 200,000-SF China Center on Top Floors of 70-Story Building
March 26, 2009
Image of the future One World Trade Center, due for completion in 2013.
Image of the future One World Trade Center, due for completion in 2013.
After three years of negotiations, the Beijing Vantone Industrial Co., Ltd., a Chinese real estate investment company, has officially signed on as the first tenant at One World Trade Center, New York’s tallest and perhaps most important building currently under development.

The Port Authority of New York said Thursday that it signed Vantone to a 190,810-square-foot lease with a 20-year, nine-month term set to commence upon the building’s completion in 2013. The Chinese developer plans to build out the 64th through 69th floors of the 70-story building as a business/cultural space known as the China Center.

The Center will serve as a hub for Chinese companies establishing operations in the United States, as well as U.S. companies seeking to expand into China. Businesses that choose to locate in the China Center will receive assistance in relocation, real estate, finance and investor relations. Chris Ward, executive director for the Port Authority, called the lease a "clear signal that the World Trade Center site will once again be a global capital of commerce."

China Center provided the Port Authority with a $10 million letter of credit immediately following the signing. Rent is set at $80 per square foot with escalations in ensuing years. An option to add up to two contiguous floors under the same terms runs through the end of 2009.

"Signing up the China Center on competitive terms and in a struggling economy is a firm stamp of approval for the World Trade Center site as a world-class business destination," said Anthony R. Cosci, Port Authority chairman.

Michael B. Francois, Thomas P. Maher and Nicolas W. Houselog of the World Trade Center Redevelopment Department represented the Port Authority in lease negotiations. Jones Lang LaSalle represented Vantone.

The lease marks the third time in as many years that Vantone has expressed interest in leasing downtown Manhattan office space. The developer had previously been involved in negotiations at 7 World Trade Center and 195 Broadway. After those deals fell through, the firm set its sites on the grand prize.

China Center is receiving $3 million in funding from The New York City Investment Fund, the Partnership of New York City’s economic development branch. The Fund and Vantone worked to gain the support of the Chinese government for the project, one of the nation's first authorized offshore real estate investments. Vantone received additional backing from its largest shareholder, Tianjin TEDA Group Co., as well as the Tianjin municipal government.

China Center has also applied for the Empire State Development Corp.'s World Trade Center Rent Reduction Program. If approved, the venture would receive a $5 per square foot rent credit for the next 15 years.

The 70-story, 2.6 million-square-foot One World Trade Center was designed by architect David Childs of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill LLP. The trophy office tower could soon be at 50 percent occupancy, pending two leases by the U.S. General Services Administration and the New York State Office of General Services. The Port Authority is working to finalize those deals, which would total more than 1 million square feet.

"New York State is both the third-highest exporting state and the third-largest state recipient of foreign direct investment," said Marisa Lago, President and CEO of the Empire State Development Corp. "Today’s announcement evidences that New York State remains competitive in the global economy."

"We've still got a long way to go, but this lease signing is a clear indication that our continued investments in Lower Manhattan are the right way to bring investments back to the city," said Deputy Mayor Robert Lieber.

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