ESRT Inks 100K SF of Deals in NYC and CT, Including Charles Schwab and Winged Keel

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Even amidst the coronavirus pandemic real estate freeze, Empire Real Estate Trust has been busy signing deals.

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The landlord inked more than 100,000-square-feet of leases — a mix of new deals and renewals — in its New York City and Connecticut properties between mid-March and May, with five signed at One Grand Central Place last month, Commercial Observer has learned.

In the largest of the New York City deals, life insurance brokerage Winged Keel Group signed an 11-year lease for 12,724 square feet on the entire 44th floor of One Grand Central Place, also known as 60 East 42nd Street, the landlord said. The insurance group is currently headquartered at 1700 Broadway.

ESRT handled the deal in-house while Colliers International’s Reid Longley and Robert Kennedy handled it for Winged Keel. The Colliers brokers did not immediately respond to a request for comment through a spokesman.

“People love our buildings, they love our locations,” Anthony Malkin, the CEO of ESRT, said on a recent Commercial Observer broadcast about the recent deals. “We’re signing leases, we’re doing tours virtually.”

Despite fears that companies will start ditching their offices after seeing the success of remote work during the pandemic — and some investors shorting real estate stocks because of that — Malkin previously said that employees will still flock back to offices and pointed to his recent leasing activity as proof.

“People will want to be in the office,” Malkin said. “Not just because of the demands of their bosses, but also because of the demand of the employees themselves. They do not want to miss out.”

Other leases signed in the 55-story Midtown South building between Park and Madison Avenues last month include Charles Schwab & Co. renewing its 10,702-square-foot retail space for 10 years; professional service firm CliftonLarsonAllen inking a five-and-a-half-year lease for 4,339 square feet; law firm Drechsler & Drechsler committing to its 3,338-square-foot space for another three-years and Liquor Bottle Packaging International renewing its 99-square-foot digs, according to ESRT.

Asking rents in the building range in the high-$60s per square foot, as CO previously reported.

In Late-March, ESRT also signed seven deals at One Grand Central Place: Prager & Co. expanded to 8,765 square feet, Northland Securities expanded to 3,854 square feet, SRI International renewed its 3,057-square-foot offices, Catalur Capital Management signed on for 2,344 square feet, Cofinance will move into new 2,288-square-foot digs, Ridgeway Partners will relocate to 2,208 square feet in the building and Sherry & O’Neill renewed its 767-square-foot offices.

ESRT hasn’t just been doing deals at One Grand Central; the REIT also signed a new 4,145-square-foot lease with television manufacturer Vizio at the iconic Empire State Building in March and relocated fast-food restaurant Chipotle Mexican Grill to 3,516 square feet to make way for Starbucksmassive 23,000-square-foot space on the ground floor of the building.

The company also signed a four-and-a-half-year renewal with Hatteras Press for its 2,057-square-foot space at 1350 Broadway and more than 40,000-square-feet worth of deals in its Connecticut portfolio, including renewing accounting conglomerate EY’s combined 35,661-square-foot offices at 300 First Stamford Place and 100 First Stamford Place, according to the landlord.