Brookfield Properties will rename the eight million-square-foot office complex it owns in Lower Manhattan several sources familiar with the company’s plans say.
What is known currently as the World Financial Center will become Brookfield Place under the plan, in what appears to be an effort to distance the property’s image as a home predominantly for financial tenants at a time when leasing demand from that sector has been weak.
Brookfield, a large real estate investment trust that owns millions of square feet of commercial space across the U.S. and Canada, is gearing up to lease over two million square feet of space at the complex next year, when Bank of America, Nomura and other tenants are expected leave or downsize.
“It’s not going to happen overnight,” one person briefed on the plan said. “But Brookfield plans to phase in the new name increasingly over time.”
The four buildings, known as One through Four World Financial Center, will be referred to individually by their street addresses going forward, 200 and 225 Liberty Street and 200 and 250 Vesey Street.
Questions and concerns have persisted about the challenge of filling the massive vacancy that is expected to open at the property midway through 2013, especially as leasing activity has slowed in the city and big tenants have appeared especially cautious in making real estate commitments.
Although the World Financial Center is considered one of Downtown’s highest quality offerings, it is facing increased competition, including from the millions of square feet of office space being built just across West Street at the World Trade Center site.
Last year Conde Nast signed an over one million-square-foot office lease at One World Trade Center, which itself had been rebranded away from its former moniker, the Freedom Tower, which many real estate experts said only conjured negative associations with 9/11 and terrorism. The Conde deal appeared to herald a new era for Lower Manhattan in which a broader array of industries, including creative companies in fast growing sectors such as media and technology, would come the neighborhood – a trend that Brookfield would appear eager to cater to with the name change.
Brookfield has made efforts to increase the desirability of the World Financial Center, investing over $250 million to overhaul the property’s 200,000 square feet of retail space and build a connection in the Winter Garden that will connect to the subterranean pedestrian corridor running east under the World Trade Center site to the Fulton Street subway station.
A spokeswoman at Brookfield did not immediately return calls seeking comment.