Deloitte Amps Up World Financial Drama

pic view Deloitte Amps Up World Financial DramaDeloitte has dialed up the suspense at Brookfield Properties’ World Financial Center, a mammoth office complex that’s already the source of endless speculation since Bank of America bought its primary tenant, Merrill Lynch, during the bank consolidations of yesteryear.

The enormous accounting firm—with headquarters at 1633 Broadway and loads of space at Two World Financial Center—has issued individualized requests for proposals to landlords across the city (and even across the Hudson River) in search of between 600,000 and 800,000 square feet of office space, say industry sources.

Deloitte’s reps at Cushman & Wakefield, John Cefaly, Dale Schlather and Mitti Liebersohn, wouldn’t comment for this story, but insiders tell The Observer that the landlords of both 11 Times Square and the future 4 World Trade Center have received the requests.

Lord knows Deloitte, whose leases aren’t up for a while, has ample opportunities. The buckling of the commercial real estate industry’s three pillars—finance, law and media/advertising—has left the market with an overabundance of lovely office space and a scarcity of tenants. Aside from the two aforementioned empty towers, the old New York Times building at 229 West 43rd Street, and Merrill’s current 4.2 million square feet at World Financial Center could also accommodate the tenant.

Deloitte also has the luxury of time. Its lease for 434,000 contiguous square feet at Two World Financial Center expires in 2013, and its lease for 186,000 non-contiguous square feet at 1633 Broadway expires in 2012, according to sources. Deloitte also has three floors, or 130,000 square feet, at the Cunard Building at 25 Broadway that expires in 2016, and more than 75,000 square feet of auxiliary space at One World Financial Center.

Given the likelihood that Merrill will let go of much of its space at World Financial Center, this scouting process may amount to little more than due diligence, and a bargaining tactic. After all, Deloitte employees may have an emotional attachment to downtown.

Not only did the firm, once a tenant at the World Trade Center, stick around after the 1993 bombing, but Deloitte also returned to the World Financial Center after it was damaged during the Sept. 11 attacks (and one of the firm’s employees died).

Following the employees’ return in September 2002, James Quigley, then a regional co-managing partner at Deloitte, said, “We’re making a statement,” according to a published report. “We are committed to New York City, and no fanatical terrorist is going to drive our business or run our lives.

“It’s our home,” he said.

drubinstein@observer.com