Is Google about to create a city-based campus in Chelsea, much like the one it created in Mountain View, Calif.? According to real estate executives and brokers, it could be close to happening.
The California-based Internet giant has expanded its city headquarters at 76 Ninth Avenue by 49,000 square feet, increasing its total presence in the building to 360,000 square feet, said GVA Williams broker Robert Tunis, who represents Google.
At the same time, across the street, there’s a major lease agreement for more than 100,000 square feet at Chelsea Market at 75 Ninth Avenue with a deal close to being finalized, a source said. The source did not confirm that Google was the tenant, but the Internet giant is on a very short list of tenants looking for space in Chelsea, and is one of the few with the financial wherewithal to make such a move.
A real estate executive involved with the pending deal said he couldn’t confirm that a lease was nearly signed because, he explained, Google has a policy of keeping matters private until a deal is complete.
Mr. Tunis declined to comment on any potential deal at Chelsea Market, but a spokesman for Google didn’t deny the expansion and wrote in an e-mail: “While I cannot comment on a specific property, New York is significant to Google as we have many users, employees, advertisers and publishers there, and it is an important base for recruiting. We will always seek to acquire space as necessary to meet our needs.”
Likewise, a spokesman for Chelsea Market wrote in an e-mail: “It is not ownership’s policy to speculate on lease agreements between Chelsea Market and any potential future tenant.”
Another source said he could not confirm that Google was currently in negotiations but said a deal would be completed shortly at Chelsea Market with a “good credit tenant.” EMI and the advertising firm WPP are both looking for space in Midtown South as well.
Google moved its city headquarters in September 2006 from Times Square to a 311,000-square-foot space at 76 Ninth Avenue—a.k.a. 111 Eighth Avenue—and later indicated it was looking to expand even more in the area, according to a source briefed on the matter.
There are currently 60,000 square feet available at Chelsea Market, said a source. But another source said that as much as 100,000 square feet is available with an option to expand to more than 200,000 square feet in the next few years.
The gap between a lease agreement and a signed lease, however, is much wider—and more vulnerable to collapse—than the gap between a contract and a closed deal for a building sale.
Richard Warshauer, a GVA Williams broker who is also representing Google, declined comment. David Falk and Nick Berger, brokers at Newmark Knight Frank, which represents Chelsea Market, would not be interviewed for this story.
Chelsea Market, the quirky one-million-square-foot office tower on Ninth Avenue, is also home to EMI, NY1 and Major League Baseball.