Are We There Yet? A World Trade Center Progress Report

The Silverstein Properties marketing center on the seventh floor of 7 World Trade Center has the air of a sacred vault. After entering past the sliding glass doors, visitors are greeted by a hallway lined with pictures documenting the World Trade Center’s sometimes contentious, sometimes momentous journey from somber graveyard to gleaming new development featuring state-of-the-art office space and retail.

Pictures depicting union construction workers at a 2010 protest and Larry Silverstein unveiling Jeff Koons’s balloon flower monument outside 7 World Trade Center compete for space with five LCD televisions broadcasting Silverstein promotional videos.

But the most effective marketing in the entire suite may be the building itself.

wtc for web credit joe woolhead 27 Are We There Yet? A World Trade Center Progress Report

Lower Manhattan. (Photo courtesy of Joe Woolhead)

“Seven World Trade Center is kind of the model, because we opened it six years ago,” said Janno Lieber, president of World Trade Center Properties, a subsidiary of Silverstein Properties. “No tenants. Everybody was gnashing their teeth and tearing at their hair about that. And now we’ve fully leased it.”

The remaining World Trade Center towers are experiencing a similar situation. It’s still too early to predict whether companies will flock to the Downtown market once the buildings are completed. But just a few years away from opening to the public, the key properties are nearly 50 percent leased, according to Mr. Lieber and published reports.

The building known as 4 World Trade Center, the 72-story asset co-owned by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and Silverstein Properties, boasts the city Human Resource Administration as a major tenant. When the building opens 2013, it will have already been at least 50 percent leased, according to Mr. Lieber.

One World Trade Center, operated by the Durst Organization and the Port Authority, is 55 percent leased. The fate of 3 World Trade Center rests on whether Silverstein Properties can find an anchor tenant in time to prevent the building from being capped at seven stories. Plans for 2 World Trade Center are moving forward slowly.

Despite these developments, Silverstein Properties officials remain confident that, as with 7 World Trade Center, tenants will eventually sign deals.

“That’s part of the reason you find us pretty calm about where things stand right now,” said Mr. Lieber. “In fact, we’re in better shape than we were back then.”

Once completed, the new World Trade Center complex promises to significantly alter the landscape of lower Manhattan, transforming the buttoned-up office environment of financial firms and white-shoe law offices into a melange of publishers and tech workers. Nothing exemplifies that more than the Condé Nast deal at 1 World Trade Center. Since inking in early 2011, the publisher of Vanity Fair and The New Yorker has succeeded in injecting style into lower Manhattan where many others have not.

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