Clear Channel Bets On Lower Sixth Avenue Tower

Clear Channel Communications, the pubic turned private radio empire, is consolidating five local offices and moving its nascent city headquarters to Tribeca next spring.

On the heels of being sold to investors for $26 billion three weeks ago, and an announcement that it plans to shed more than a third of its radio stations, the Texas-based company has signed a 15-year lease at the former AT&T building at 32 Avenue of the Americas.

The lease is for 121,000 square feet, with rents at approximately $35 per square foot for the first five years, $39 a foot for the next five and $43 a foot for the last five, according to a source familiar with the terms of the lease. The company will get the first eight months rent-free.

Clear Channel will stuff its New York–based radio stations and D.J. boxes onto the ground, second, third and part of the fourth floors. The New York–based stations include Z100, Power 105.1, 103.5 KTU, Q104.3 and 106.7 Lite FM.

The space may offer the radio company some rich opportunities. The ground floor has an auditorium, and Clear Channel could convert the space into a performance area, a source said. The space currently could fit about 250 people, so there’s a chance artists like Kelly Clarkson or Kelis could throw concerts that might be broadcast simultaneously.

The move also means that local radio legends like Power 105’s D.J. Clue, Z100’s Paul (Cubby) Bryant and KTU’s bridge-and-tunnel god Goumba Johnny will be packing their bags and broadcasting from a new home. No word yet on whether Whoopi Goldberg, whose Wake Up with Whoopi is syndicated on KTU, will be moving too.

As Clear Channel veers away from its power-gobbling ways of the 1990’s, the asking rents downtown should be a healthy break from the asking rents of at least $70 per square foot at its three midtown offices: 1133, 1180 and 1120 Avenue of the Americas. (The company’s other two area locations are in Jersey City.)

And with all the scuttlebutt swirling about its recent business affairs, the company had hoped to keep this move a secret. Of course, in the gossipy corners of commercial brokerage offices, no deal—especially no deal over 100,000 square feet—is a secret well kept. CoStar noted the deal on Friday.

The space that Clear Channel will take had AT&T’s name on the lease, but the building’s landlord, Rudin Management, bought out AT&T and worked with Clear Channel directly, a source said.

The 33-year veteran and media broker favorite, Michael Laginestra of CB Richard Ellis, handled the deal for Clear Channel. Mr. Laginestra would not comment on the deal, nor would representatives from Rudin Management.

The 74-year-old Art Deco Tribeca high-rise that will be Clear Channel’s new home—nicknamed the Hub—contains a total of 1.15 million square feet. The building has a long and, at times, uneven history, once serving as a telephone-switchboard center that switched the first trans-Atlantic phone call.

Bill Rudin bought the building in 1999 and refurbished it, hoping to make it a telecommunications mecca amid the dot-com boom. Then, when those dot-com dreams died, Mr. Rudin’s grand ideas gave way to a more modest mix of tech firms and traditional office users.

That’s not to say the building doesn’t have its bandwidth-loving tenants, which include companies like Qwest, Tyco, T-Systems and DirecTV.

HOW EXHAUSTING. FIRST, THE TOY INDUSTRY industry learned that it’s getting kicked out of its longtime home at 200 Fifth Avenue to make way for—what else?—new residential condos. Then it found space on Church Street. Then it didn’t. Then it found space way on the West Side, on 11th Avenue. Then it didn’t.

Now, there’s a good chance that these babes may never find a city-based toy land.

“I’m very worried that we won’t find a home, and this will force the entire toy industry out of New York City,” said Steven Greenfield, the president at Salo Ventures, who has been leading the industry’s efforts in the city. “It’s been very tough and very frustrating, and there are very few choices available to us.”

“There’s clearly a possibility that the industry may survive with the temporary shows and the temporary locations every year, but whether that’s a longtime survival is a question mark,” said Moshe Sukenik of Newmark Knight Frank, who reps the industry.

It’s a tough deal to broker, because the toy industry needs show space—the type of space where you have (an ungodly) 200 tenants on a lease who display their latest toys during, say, the current holiday season. They also need a lot of that space. Mr. Greenfield said he hopes to find 150,000 to 175,000 square feet.

A nearly closed deal at 636 11th Avenue, for more than 150,000 square feet, fell through earlier this year when the toy industry couldn’t secure 50 necessary tenants, Mr. Greenfield said. This came right after an even larger deal fell through on Church Street last year.

Mr. Greenfield said the industry is now looking at a spot between 30th and 34th streets off Seventh Avenue—he wouldn’t confirm the address—but it may be a last-ditch hope.

Just like manufacturing generally in New York, the century-long toy industry’s stay may be rolling toward an inexorable end.

“Most of the landlords want deals with large law firms, not smaller and multiple tenants,” said Mr. Greenfield. “They’re quite greedy when things are going their way.” Clear Channel Bets On  Lower Sixth Avenue Tower