Diamond From the Rough

Construction of the 52-story, $1.1 billion building, designed by Cook and Fox Architects, started in 2004. Bank of America occupies about half of the tower. At his wife’s suggestion, Mr. Durst opted for the address One Bryant Park over 1111 Sixth Avenue.

The building has had a few hitches-most notably debris falling from the construction site-but they pale beside the process of assembling the site.

“We were very fortunate in getting an incredible market that lasted about a year,” Mr. Durst explained of how the recession has impacted leasing at the tower. “When we were building, I said our rents would start with a ‘1′ in front of them, and everyone thought that was not possible. We had that when we started leasing. We even had some leases in the $200 range at the end,” he said. “That lasted about three weeks, though. Then, as you know, the market disappeared.”

Nonetheless, One Bryant Park is 98 percent occupied, Mr. Durst said, and rents are still in the $100s a square foot-“the low $100s,” he added. Some of One Bryant Park’s tenants have subleased space in the past year, and Durst is building out the 40,000 square feet of vacant space.

Otherwise, the recession has taken little serious toll on the gem. Last May, Durst was even able to refinance the $650 million construction loan it took out in 2004, for $1.27 billion. So far, the deal has been one of the biggest the credit markets have seen since mid-2007, though like everything else at the building, it was the result of a long, drawn-out negotiation, this one involving Durst’s five different lenders.

It will likely be one of Douglas Durst’s last as co-president of the company his grandfather Joseph started in 1927. After spending more than three decades carefully cobbling his father’s vision of Times Square back together, Mr. Durst said he plans to step down when construction of One Bryant Park is finished.


Diamond From the Rough