20 Times Square: Green Tower at Bus Terminal Close to Securing Anchor Tenant

The law firm Paul Weiss could anchor 20 Times Square, allowing the planned 42-story, LEED-CS Gold office tower to proceed above teh Port Authority Bus Terminal on 8th Avenue.

The New York Observer reported on Wednesday that 20 Times Square, the planned 42-story LEED (for Core and Shell) Gold tower that Vornado and Ruben will co-develop above the north wing of the Port Authority Bus Terminal on 8th Avenue, is close to securing an anchor tenant. Law firm Paul Weiss is in preliminary negotiations with Vornado for 500,000 square feet of space across the building’s middle floors- over a third of the building’s 1.3 million square feet- at what’s rumored to be $95 per square foot. The project should be ready for a 2012 or 2013 occupancy; Paul Weiss’ lease at 1285 Avenue of the Americas expires in 2011.

The potential deal is obviously significant in terms of moving the speculative 20 Times Square project forward, but also highlights SJP Properties‘ inability to similarly secure an anchor tenant for its speculative 11 Times Square project across the street, which is also seeking a LEED Gold rating. Real Estate Weekly believes that SJP’s refusal to budge off of asking rents that are “well above” $100 per square foot are the problem, notwithstanding the developer’s ongoing negotiations with French bank Natixis, which has been linked to the project since earlier in the year and would likely pay SJP around $115 per square foot for its space.

It’s interesting that law firms are leading the charge into new green spaces, even if they’re on the West Side; as you’ll recall, Goodwin Proctor and Proskauer Rose will similarly anchor Boston Properties’ 250 West 55th Street project. Whether that’s a function of the turmoil in the financial services sector or demonstrative of the attraction that green Class A space holds likely remains to be seen, but it’s clear that 8th Avenue’s transformation as an address for high-profile green buildings is continuing, notwithstanding the current market conditions.

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