Newsweek is poised to be the first major publishing firm of recent years to move from midtown to downtown, as the magazine has a lease out for about 200,000 square feet at landlord Alex Sapir’s 100 Church Street, according to a source with knowledge of the pending deal.
For decades, Newsweek has been perched in the heart of midtown, residing in the towering prewar building 444 Madison Avenue and then 1775 Broadway, attaching the designation of “the Newsweek building” to both properties.
If the deal goes through—the lease has not yet been signed, though people involved expect it to be finished in the next few weeks—it would represent a major coup for Lower Manhattan. Traditionally, national media organizations have tended to be headquartered in or around midtown. Newsweek is currently a few blocks away from its competitor Time at the Time-Life building on Sixth Avenue, for instance. And while media and advertising firms such as the Arnell Group and American Lawyer Media have started to trickle into Lower Manhattan, none with quite the cachet or size of Newsweek have opted to move headquarters downtown.
The pending deal comes as Rupert Murdoch intends to bring his Wall Street Journal closer to his grasp by moving its offices from the World Financial Center in downtown to the News Corp. headquarters at 1211 Avenue of the Americas.
Newsweek’s current lease at 1775 Broadway ends next year, as owner Joseph Moinian intends to redevelop the brick building, adorning it with a new glass curtain wall and changing its name to 3 Columbus Circle. Given the renovation and the hot location of the building on 57th Street, it’s safe to assume the rents would have been more than a bit out of Newsweek’s range.
Indeed, downtown rents, at substantial discounts to those throughout midtown, were likely a lure in the deal, as they have been for other media and creative firms. Asking rents for available space at 100 Church run from $45 to $53 per square foot, well below the $100-plus being charged in offices near the current Newsweek building.
The newsweekly has been eyeing 100 Church for months, and one broker expressed frustration that from the start of its search, the company didn’t show interest in any properties but the 21-story, one million-square-foot building across from Larry Silverstein’s 7 World Trade Center. The New York Post first reported the firm was looking at the space late last year.
The building, a boxy, blue-and-gray structure that has architecture reminiscent of the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, has in many ways followed the path of Lower Manhattan. In the years before Sept. 11, 2001, it had a number of financial firms as tenants, including Bank of New York and Merrill Lynch. The collapse of the World Trade Center towers left the building scarred and damaged, and in the ensuing months, many of its tenants departed, leaving 100 Church almost cavernously empty.
Last year, Mr. Sapir, president of the Sapir Organization, switched leasing agents, from Cushman & Wakefield to archrival CB Richard Ellis, which scored a 45,000-square-foot lease by Niche Media in the summer. More than 600,000 square feet are listed as available by the tracking service MrOfficeSpace, though the Newsweek deal would clearly cut that number down.
CBRE’s heavy hitters Stephen Siegel, Howard Fiddle and Brad Gerla represent the building for Sapir, while CBRE tristate chairman John Powers is working on behalf of Newsweek.
When contacted last week about the lease, Mr. Sapir did not speak specifically about Newsweek, but said that he hoped to have good news to report in the next few weeks. A Newsweek spokeswoman, Jan Angilella, declined to comment specifically about the lease, and a spokesman for CBRE declined to comment.