When Queen Anne of England bestowed Trinity Church with a large land grant in 1705, the aim was to establish an Anglican foothold in the New World, not a commercial hub for New York City’s creative underclass.
But with 6 million square feet of property situated, lucratively, in what is now considered the Hudson Square district, Trinity’s real estate arm has indeed succeeded in luring not only the WASPs from ye olde England but the postproduction companies and advertising boutiques from Tribeca. Not bad for a 300-year-old church.
“It’s sort of a younger, hipper feel, so, I think, really, that’s what drew people here,” said Jason Pizer, 45, the Trinity Real Estate executive who has been credited as a driver behind Hudson Square’s emergence as a vista for the creative class. “But probably most importantly-and I don’t want to kid myself-we were a lower-priced alternative to midtown. We were sort of off the beaten path.”
Off the beaten path or not, the Hudson Square district is where Mr. Pizer, a relative newcomer to real estate, has earned his bragging rights. Indeed, since 2005, when he became vice president of leasing for Trinity, the 15-year real estate professional has nailed nearly all of his 3.3 million square feet in transaction activity to 16 acres of space just north of Tribeca and slightly south of the West Village.
While his transaction weight has been dominated by the independently owned businesses that are slowly becoming a calling card for Trinity, its heft has bulged from heavy hitters like Viacom and CBS, which broadcasts five of its radio stations-WFAN and Mike Francesa, anyone?-from its 17-story building at 345 Hudson Street. Both of those media industry behemoths inked big deals in 2007-Viacom for 400,000 feet; CBS for 112,000-that triggered an ambitious repositioning at the building that included lobby, window, electrical- and cooling-system overhauls, Mr. Pizer said. The renovations were completed in 2008.
And for Mr. Pizer and his colleagues, the push toward leasing bigger, more established companies continues, most recently with Horizon Media, a direct marketing company that last week signed a 15-year, 115,000-foot lease at 1 Hudson Square. The firm, which currently leases in midtown, will occupy swing space at 100 Avenue of the Americas until raw floorage at 1 Hudson is fully built out.
“They’re looking to consolidate into one building,” said Mr. Pizer of Horizon, which currently leases space throughout midtown. “It’s a very large transaction for the marketplace we’re in, and, for that, we’re very happy.”
By juggling the demands of the boldface corporations and scrappy boutiques alike, Trinity has turned what was once a neighborhood of bankrupt printing presses owned by the likes of Bowne of New York and Rosenbaum into the kind of trendy office space your 16-year-old son will someday turn into a terrific start-up. Indeed, several of the 18 buildings in Trinity’s portfolio are expected to see ambitious renovations over the next decade, including what Mr. Pizer described as major face-lifts for 200 Hudson Street and 100 Sixth Avenue. Like recent work at 1 Hudson Square, the renovations will most likely be deal-driven, said Mr. Pizer.
“It’s been a little bit slower than it might be, but the changes I’ve seen in 10-plus years, it’s been like night and day,” he said from his modern office at 1 Hudson Square, his floor-to-ceiling windows looking out onto Varick Street. “I remember showing space in these buildings that had been occupied by the printers, and they had the lights hanging down off the ceiling, and you knew you had to warn people to duck because there were wires and pools of ink on the floor from leaky machines, or ink that had spilled.”