Leases  ·  Office

Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel in the Market for New NYC Digs


International law firm Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel is looking for new New York headquarters as its lease in the Times Square submarket comes due in five years, Kramer Levin Partner Jay Neveloff told Commercial Observer.

“Our lease is up for extension in five years,” he said. “Law firm space planning has evolved and so we need to think about how to effectively use our space.”

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The law firm has about 325,000 square feet on numerous floors at Silverstein Properties1177 Avenue of the Americas between West 45th and West 46th Streets. Since moving in in July 2004, the company has expanded its square footage in the Americas Tower to accommodate its current 600 employees.

Mr. Neveloff said the partners “love” its current rent which he wouldn’t disclose (note: Investor Growth Capital leased 9,960 square feet in October for $109.28 per square foot on the 47th floor at 1177 Avenue of the Americas, according to CoStar (CSGP)), but that the law firm’s needs are different. For example, less file space is needed because documents have become more digitalized. Also, there are fewer secretaries.

“If you walk around Kramer Levin now you’d see secretarial desks that aren’t occupied,”Mr. Neveloff said. That’s because younger attorneys are doing more of their own word processing work so fewer secretaries are necessary. And for the ones there are, they could sit together.

As CO previously reported, law offices are reducing footprints and boosting efficiency in order to cut pricey real estate costs, especially in New York City. Within the past year White & Case and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom have signed leases to relocate to smaller, more efficient spaces or downsize in their current ones.

Law firms are leasing Manhattan space at a price of $76.75 per square feet, the highest of any city surveyed in Colliers International’s 2015 report on law firms in North America released in April. That number is an 11 percent jump from 2014.

Kramer Levin is early in the search process and it has tapped Newmark Grubb Knight Franks Moshe Sukenik and Barry Gosin to advise the attorneys. Mr. Gosin declined to comment.

“We’re trying to decide what to do,” Mr. Neveloff said. “So they’re not out knocking on doors looking at space.

While their offices will likely be somewhat smaller, Mr. Neveloff said the partners have not confined the search to the immediate Times Square vicinity.