Despite the chill in the air over the past week, January 2017 new leasing activity in Manhattan was hot and had the highest total January leasing on record. Through the first 31 days of 2017, nearly 3.1 million square feet of new leases were signed, marking a 42.2 percent increase compared with January 2016’s total. This January also saw the highest monthly level of new office leases signed since November 2014. In addition, the strong lease renewal trend continued with 1.7 million square feet renewed to start the year. January 2017 leasing activity benefitted from five new leases greater than 100,000 square feet signed, equal to the total number of large new leases inked through the first three months of 2016.
Midtown accounted for 60.3 percent of the new leases signed this year and also set a new record high in January with nearly 1.9 million square feet leased. After a slow fourth quarter when Midtown averaged only 1.4 million square feet leased per month, the market benefitted from having four of the five 100,000-plus-square-foot new leases signed. Of the four leases, three of them occurred in the Sixth Avenue/Rock Center submarket, led by The New York Times’ 158,856-square-foot short-term sublease at 1271 Avenue of the Americas. Midtown also tacked on nearly 1.3 million square feet of lease renewals during the month, led by the 21st Century Fox and News Corp renewals at 1211 Avenue of the Americas for a combined total of 1.1 million square feet.
Although Midtown South did not set new records for January leasing, the 531,768 square feet of new leases signed was significantly higher than the 331,096-square-foot monthly average over the last six months of 2016. Although no new leases greater than 100,000 square feet were finalized, Live Nation signed Midtown South’s largest lease in January, taking a 99,588-square-foot sublease at 430 West 15th Street.
Downtown new leasing in January 2017 scorched every month from 2016, with 697,289 square feet leased, the highest monthly total since July 2015. It also marked the second-fastest start to a new year for Downtown leasing on record—topped only by January 2013. Downtown had the largest new lease of the year completed as the New York State Attorney General’s Office finalized its deal at 28 Liberty Street for 342,484 square feet.
So, even though Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow and predicted six more weeks of winter, if January leasing is a predictor of what’s to come, the market is on pace for a hot first quarter.