The Economist Mulls Move, Maybe 'Very Far Downtown'

Letters to the editor in The Economist may run under the anachronistic and patriarchal greeting “Sir,” but The Economist is no media dinosaur. Exhibit A: Its New York presence, like Alvy Singer’s universe, is expanding. The Economist, sir, is on the commercial real estate market.

“Our lease is up in 2010,” said Paul Rossi, the publisher for the Americas of the weekly magazine, which is perhaps the only publication in the world to give readers a detailed rundown of the political situation in every earthly corner, from Suriname to The Gambia to Good Old America, and to do so with a wry sense of humor (yes, obviously, this reporter is a fan).

“We’re investigating our options,” Mr. Rossi said. “At the moment, we’re in the very early stages.”

The Economist has hired GVA Williams Richard Charkham to find 100,000 square feet of space, a step up from the 70,000 square feet the magazine now occupies at 111 West 57th Street, between Sixth and Seventh avenues, a building whose ground floor, mezzanine and basement house the Steinway showroom.

Why the extra space?

“We are expanding across all of our business units,” said Mr. Rossi. His current office houses 250 employees.

And where, exactly, might The Economist relocate?

“We’re looking at all of our options, and one of our options is to look very far downtown,” Mr. Rossi said. “But we’re also mindful of where our staff lives. I think in reality we’re looking from midtown to midtown south. I don’t think we’re going much further. But never say never.”

Don’t worry. We won’t.

In possibly related (and possibly unrelated) news, Steinway Musical Instruments Inc., which signed a 99-year land-lease for the entire 111 West 57th Street building in 1999, and the owner of the land underneath, are still negotiating the sale of the property to Starwood Capital, eight months after the New York Post first reported the possible sale.

Julie Theriault, a spokeswoman for Steinway Musical Instruments, which owns piano maker Steinway & Sons, declined to confirm whether Starwood Capital was the likely buyer (though another source close to the negotiations did). But she didn’t deny the presence of negotiations, which she pointed out are quite complicated, thanks to the presence of three parties instead of the typical two.

“That’s one of the reasons it has taken so long,” Ms. Theriault said.

CB Richard Ellis is representing both the landowner, Wexford Management LLC, and Steinway in the discussions.

If the sale does finally go through, pianists needn’t worry that they’ll have to travel to Paramus or Westport to hunt for their Long Island City-crafted instruments.

“If that transaction went through, we’d actually remain in our retail space,” Ms. Theriault said.

And that, sir, is brilliant.

The Economist Mulls Move, Maybe 'Very Far Downtown'