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It’s been six years since the august magazine-publishing empire, Condé Nast Publications, took up residence in its Times Square Death Star.

In that time, the 23 floors it occupies in the state-of-the-art tower-complete with its famous Frank Gehry–designed cafeteria-have become as inseparable a part of the company’s identity as has the West 43rd Street neo-Gothic behemoth occupied by The New York Times.

Of course, The New York Times is moving anyway-to a new tower designed by architect Renzo Piano.

Condé Nast is staying where it is. But not without growing pains.

Since the relocation, virtually all of Condé Nast’s back-office functions-from accounting to procurement-have been dispersed to locations outside 4 Times Square.

Condé Nast’s vertical expansion is being stymied by the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom, which leases the upper 25 floors of the building.

And as Mr. Newhouse’s company expands-this fall, they’re set to publish a new title from one of its oldest enterprises, Men’s Vogue-the company has been looking for places to jettison ancillary operations from the mothership.

The problem isn’t new. Shortly after Mr. Newhouse relocated his magazines from 350 Madison Avenue to 4 Times Square, according to a real-estate source familiar with the proceedings, the Durst Organization, the developer of Condé Nast’s headquarters, held discussions with Condé Nast executives over ways to connect 4 Times Square to a tower being planned on the site abutting the Condé Nast tower to the east. A sort-of Condé Nast Mini-Me.

The conversations, the source said, while never moving beyond the preliminary stages, called for Condé Nast to take several hundred thousand square feet of space in a building on the site where the 54-story Bank of America Tower is currently under construction.

The initial concept would’ve had the tower directly affixed to 4 Times Square at the base, the source said, rather than requiring a sky-bridge to link the two towers. The revised plans for 1 Bryant Park, where Bank of America will take one million square feet, separates the 954-foot-tall tower from 4 Times Square and will total 2.1 million square feet when completed in 2008.

Douglas Durst, co-preside nt of the Durst Organization, the developer of both 4 Times Square and the Bank of America Tower, said that his company had been in discussions with Condé Nast over expansion possibilities, but that the talks have since terminated.

Condé Nast still has 14 years on its lease at 4 Times Square, but remains the company elusive about its real-estate expansion plans.

Robert Bennis, Condé Nast’s senior vice president for real estate, said he had no knowledge of formal plans to acquire space in the new Durst tower.

Condé Nast spokeswoman Maurie Perl declined to comment on the company’s real-estate hunt.

“As a privately held company, we don’t discuss our strategy,” Ms. Perl said. “The company has grown in both the size and the number of magazines that we publish, the result being that we will continue to explore our options …. We are not currently housed in one building in New York City and around the country,” Ms. Perl said, adding: “That will continue. “

Beyond 4 Times Square, Condé Nast currently occupies three floors at 1440 Broadway, where the company’s I.T., circulation, consumer-marketing and strategic-sourcing divisions are housed. Fairchild, the wing of the Advance Publications empire Mr. Newhouse acquired for $650 million in 1999, recently added a reported 28,000 square feet to the 230,000 square feet it leased in new offices at 750 Third Avenue last year, along with Fairchild’s long-held space at 7 West 34th Street. Condé Nast operates the editorial offices for Wired in San Francisco; Bon Appetit and Architectural Digest in Los Angeles; and runs its credit and database operations out of a facility in Wilmington, Del.

In 1999, Condé Nast led the charge of media giants to iconic towers of starchitecture. But they may soon find themselves outpaced.

The new Hearst Tower, which will rise literally out of the rubble of the company’s corporate Heimat, the International Magazine Building, is rising fast. The New York Times plans to occupy its new spire by 2007.

Whether they’ll have more success incorporating their buildings into their corporate images than Time Warner remains to be seen.

Time Warner moved into its $1.7 billion corporate palace at Columbus Circle, which is still known more for its biosphere-cum-shopping-mall pedestal than as the seat of a global media empire.

Apparently, Whole Foods is a stronger draw than CNN!

Condé Nast never had that problem. But then again, that presents another: Can you move out of a building 20 years after it becomes the anchor of your brand in a media city like New York?

“For Condé Nast,” said Peter Golder, an associate professor of marketing at N.Y.U.’s Stern School of Business, “the headquarters becomes even more important as the company grows. For their employees, the corporate image of a building like 4 Times Square matters a lot more. There is more prestige working in the headquarters that is the showpiece property than working in some remote location.”

Cue clickety stillettos!

-Gabriel Sherman

In the essay that won her the Ms. Subways 2004 title last October, Caroline Sanchez-Bernat explained why she’s proud to be a New Yorker: Because the city is a “shining gem of diversity and possibility that is a template for what our world aspires to be …. “

Who could argue? But there’s a more compelling question to be answered about our fair city: Who, among us, is really smoking hot?

New York magazine has stepped in to pick up where the New York Post and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority-co-sponsors of the Ms. Subways pageant-left off. This July, the magazine will publish an issue featuring around 50 of the most beautiful New Yorkers.

In a letter that went out Monday to some of the people judging the competition (we’ll get to that in a moment), New York’s strategist editor, Janet Ozzard, frames the Adam Moss–ian query:

“We’ve all got our list of New York’s most beautiful sights: the skyline, the Brooklyn Bridge, Grand Central Station lit up at night. Those are the landmarks that exist nowhere else, that are distinctly and decisively New York. But what makes a beautiful New Yorker? And how is he, or she, different from a stunning Angeleno or Parisian?”

The question was put to a raft of what New York spokeswoman Serena Torrey called local beauty “experts,” including bouncers, stylists, fashion designers and restaurateurs. In case you were thinking of trying to get yourself nominated: Forget it. The magazine is keeping the judges’ identities secret to prevent “campaigning,” Ms. Torrey said.

Off the Record reflected on the question, “What makes a beautiful New Yorker?”

If you’re just going by popular standards of beauty, he or she is probably no different from a stunning Angeleno or Parisian at all. In fact, he or she is probably genetically identical, since he or she is likely to be a model or movie star-there are certainly enough in this city to fill a magazine-and therefore is bicoastal and also requires a pied-à-terre abroad.

But New York has taken steps to make sure its collection of foxes isn’t just composed of the Gwyneth Paltrows and Tyson Beckfords among us-those who are annually grouped among People magazine’s “50 Most Beautiful People.” Whereas People’s editors come up with the list of finalists based on pretty faces in Hollywood or in the news, New York’s nominees will represent an earthier, more populist pool.

“It can be that waiter or waitress you can’t take your eyes off of,” Ms. Ozzard suggests helpfully, or “a bike messenger you talk to every day, or someone you’ve seen or read about, but never even met.”

The Moss gang isn’t about to limit itself entirely to normal folk and Fabian Basabe. “This isn’t a model search,” Ms. Ozzard writes. “(Although if you’d like to nominate a local model, please do).”

To nominate their favorite waitress or bike messenger, the invited beauty experts need only send a photograph of the person and a short description of why he or she captures the essence of New York beauty. But the people at New York emphasize that this isn’t a contest; it’s more of an anthropological survey of the city.

So while Ms. Sanchez-Bernat got a year’s worth of free subway and bus rides, a home subscription to the Post, a crown, a sash and a gift pack for representing one version of beauty in New York, the nominees for New York’s search will get the joy of seeing their name in print, said Ms. Torrey.

That, and “our eternal gratitude.”

-Rebecca Dana

Look, the movie and DVD magazine put out by Entertainment Weekly in March as a test issue, didn’t get good looks from Time Inc. brass.

According to a Time Inc. source, the premiere issue received tepid reviews from Time Inc. editor in chief Norman Pearlstine when he was presented with the magazine, and the issue was sent around to Time Inc. editors for feedback and critique.

The debut magazine, which revives the title of the general-interest magazine that ceased publishing in 1971, was distributed to EW subscribers and available only on select newsstands. An EW spokesperson said that no plans have been made for a formal launch.

“We are continuing to explore the idea of a monthly movie magazine. That’s what Look is,” the spokesperson said.

According to an EW source, the second issue of Look is being readied for an October release. Editor-at-large Mark Harris oversaw the first issue but stepped down in anticipation of his planned fall book leave; he’ll likely be replaced by senior editor Jason Adams, who will be tasked with sprucing up the design and layout.

EW managing editor Rick Tetzeli declined to comment.

-G.S.

Layout in the sunshine! Later this month, Saveur, the foodie monthly, plans to relocate its art department from Park Avenue South to Winter Park, Fla.

Ever since Orlando-based World Publications bought Saveur five years ago, rumors had circulated that the magazine might head off to the land of citrus-home to 12 of the company’s 19 other titles, including Boating Life, Fly Fishing in Salt Waters and Wake Boarding. “It’s always been a worry that they’ll move us,” a Saveur staffer said.

Now, after the August/September issue closes on June 24, the magazine’s two New York–based art and production positions will be eliminated. Dave Weaver, a 14-year veteran of World Publications, will take over the art-director post from Florida. The magazine’s editors will remain in New York.

“It’s been deemed a necessary restructuring,” executive editor Margo True said. “I’ve had no indication that the whole staff will be moved down.”

A spokesperson for World Publications said the company had conducted an outside search and decided Mr. Weaver was the most qualified candidate. “Cost-cutting wasn’t a factor,” the spokesperson said.

-G.S.

New York Times pundit standings, May 31–June 6

1. Thomas L. Friedman, score 18.5 [rank last week: 2nd]

2. Bob Herbert, 17.5 [tie-7th]

3. David Brooks, 7.5 [3rd]

4. Matt Miller, 5.0 [1st]

5. Nicholas D. Kristof, 1.5 [tie-7th]

6. John Tierney, 0.0 [4th]

Two consecutive sentences printed at the end of Thomas L. Friedman’s June 3 column, “A Race to the Top”: 1. “Yes, this is a bad time for France and friends to lose their appetite for hard work-just when India, China and Poland are rediscovering theirs.” 2. “Paul Krugman is on vacation.” Ahem! This is a competitive world, people! “[B]illions of people,” David Brooks wrote on the same theme, “are willing to work harder than the Europeans are.” Thus, with Mr. Krugman, Frank Rich and Maureen Dowd all wallowing in old-world socialist escape from their workaday routines, Mr. Friedman, Mr. Brooks and Bob Herbert stayed at their desks, playing the role of the motivated masses of Bangalore.

-Tom Scocca