Milbank vs. Bank: JPMorgan Wants More Space Downtown

onechase3 pietroizzo 1 Milbank vs. Bank: JPMorgan Wants More Space Downtown Pity the lawyers these days. 

Law firm Milbank Tweed Hadley McCloy LLP, which currently occupies high-floor space in fabulous Chase Manhattan Plaza, will likely not be able to stay. JPMorgan Chase, which owns the building, wants more space for itself in the brimming tower. Meanwhile, Milbank’s lease expires in 2013, with a five-year renewal option, but now the landlord is reluctant to sign a new lease, according to sources.  

Chase was, in fact, trying to sell its downtown hub at One Chase Manhattan Plaza as of just six months ago, but seems to have changed its mind. The bank is now contemplating playing some real estate musical chairs, in order to move more of its operations into space it owns. 

Milbank is scouting for 350,000 square feet, but the pickings are quite slim, especially if they want to stay downtown. “There aren’t 50 locations,” said one source with a laugh. The law firm looked at 7 World Trade Center, but Wilmer Hale beat them to the punch and less than 300,000 square feet are now available. 

Former Goldman Sachs hub 85 Broad Street is one of the few spaces downtown that could accomodate the tenant, but the move from a fabulous all-glass SOM-designed tower to a building we once dubbed “desperately anonymous” is unlikely to thrill. A more appealing option would be One New York Plaza, a 1960s office tower where more than 500,000 square feet at the top is available, said Cassidy Turley’s Robert Sammons. We suspect, though we could not confirm, that Douglas Durst and Larry Silverstein will be sending chocolates and flowers Milbank’s way. Two towers at the World Trade Center site, controlled at least in part by the landlords, could be finished just in time for the law firm’s 2013 moving date. 

Milbank has expanded its search to midtown, according to a source, where towers like 3 Columbus Circle and 11 Times Square, for example, could accomodate them. That’s quite the leap from downtown to midtown rents, however. The law firm is still negotiating with Chase to stay, according to one source.

Other heavyweight tenants that have found themselves in an even bigger scramble for space are fellow law firm Chadbourne and Park, and Wells Fargo, which recently inked a deal at 150 East 42nd Street. 

Dale Schlather is leading the Milbank assignment for Cushman & Wakefield, along with firm chair John Cushman. Mr. Schlather declined to comment. 

lkusisto@observer.com