Big Manhattan Law Firm Exits GM Building for … Downtown Brooklyn

The largest tenant in the GM Building is relocating a portion of its operations from the gilded midtown tower to the decidedly humbler environs of downtown Brooklyn.

Weil, Gotshal & Manges, a global law firm with a New York staff of 1,300, has signed a lease for 35,000 square feet at Brooklyn’s 15 Metrotech Center, owned by Forest City Ratner.

The firm now leases 500,000 square feet in the GM Building, most of which doesn’t come up for renewal until around 2020. But a small portion of that space—between 10,000 and 15,000 square feet—is coming up for renewal soon, and the firm has decided to pass.

Price is a big factor. The asking rent for renewal at the GM Building was $120 a square foot. Class A space in downtown Brooklyn is typically priced between $30 and $35.

“In terms of our expansion, we thought this was one place where we would be able to both realize efficiencies in real estate, pay less rent than the GM Building and at the same time show our commitment to New York City and provide a pleasant place to work,” said Phil Rosen, co-head of Weil’s national real estate practice.

“This is exciting,” Mr. Rosen added. ”We’re the first global law firm to take space in Brooklyn. And we’re the first major Manhattan law firm to take space in Brooklyn.”

The firm’s information systems, finance and operations units will be housed in the building, which is also home to the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, the economic development group charged with revitalizing the long beleaguered neighborhood.

Wellpoint, represented by Glenn Markman and John Cefaly of Cushman & Wakefield, subleased the space long term to the law firm, which was represented by Kirk Killian of Partners National.