Depository Trust Seeks 700K Square Feet

The stultifyingly named Depository Trust is one of the latest tenants to tantalize the Manhattan real estate market.

The Trust is, essentially, the financial industry’s bookkeeper, founded in response to something actually called “the Paperwork Crisis” of the ’60s and ’70s, during which brokerages were forced to close their doors on Wednesdays to properly organize the millions of stock exchange notes creating crushing towers of paper on their desks worthy of the Collier Brothers. (According to the Trust’s Web site, “at that time, brokers still exchanged paper certificates and checks for each trade, sending hundreds of messengers scurrying throughout Wall Street clutching bags of checks and securities.”)

At any rate, ever since, banks have increasingly turned to the Trust, which, by its own count, “settled more than $1.88 quadrillion in securities transactions” in 2008. (Emphasis ours.)

Now, the Trust is looking for 700,000 square feet, since its lease is up in 2012, according to sources. The office hunt is a cost-cutting measure, according to one well-placed source, who estimated the firm now pays about $50 a square foot. Meanwhile, the Trust has become quite the belle of the real estate market ball. Earlier this month, The New York Times reported that New Jersey is trying to lure the Trust across the river with a 10-year, $74.6 million incentive.

Right now, the Trust is headquartered at the starkly imposing 55 Water Street, the enormous 3.6 million–square–foot tower designed by Emory Roth & Sons, and now owned by the New Water Street Corp.

Manhattan-side, the Trust doesn’t have all that many options. There’s the 1.1 million–square–foot 11 Times Square, that blooper of a building across from the new New York Times building and the Port Authority. But that tower is likely too pricey for the Trust’s taste. There’s also Worldwide Plaza at 825 Eighth Avenue, and maybe, depending on what Merrill Lynch ultimately does, there’s the World Financial Center.

Be that as it may, some are dubious about this “search” being anything more than a bargaining move to get the 55 Water Street landlord to lower rents.

“They’re not moving,” said one tenant broker. “They have a Fort Knox–like complex below that building.”

Then again, maybe the Trust is trying to escape some bad vibes. In July 2000, a 35-year-old Brooklyn mother of two accidentally locked herself inside one of the vaults. Trying to escape, she pulled the fire alarm, which triggered the vault to replace the oxygen in the room with carbon dioxide and caused her to suffocate.

Neither the Trust nor its broker would comment for this story.

drubinstein@observer.com

Depository Trust Seeks 700K Square Feet