Cushman & Wakefield Weighs Vacating 1290 Avenue of the Americas HQ

The big commercial real estate brokerage is mulling the move while consolidating two other New York offices

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Cushman & Wakefield, one of the world’s largest commercial real estate services firms, might leave its longtime Midtown home at 1290 Avenue of the Americas, months after it announced plans to consolidate two of its New York City offices, Commercial Observer has learned.

The brokerage has started weighing whether it will remain at its more than 155,000-square-foot New York City headquarters, which houses more than 600 people, in Vornado Realty Trust and the Trump Organization’s Midtown building, Toby Dodd, C&W’s tri-state president, said.

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Dodd, who informed staff on Wednesday morning about the potential move, said the brokerage isn’t leaning toward either staying or going, but is starting a process to get feedback from workers and clients on where its New York hub should be, along with looking for good deals in Manhattan’s slowly recovering office market.

“We’ll start doing a focus group to really understand what is best for our people,” Dodd told CO. “We want to run a thorough process and have the data to really inform our decision … and that deep understanding of what our future needs are.”

The brokerage doesn’t expect to have a decision on its 1290 A of A plans until at least next year and isn’t sure if a decision will also mean shrinking or expanding its headquarters.

Dodd added that the brokerage isn’t tied to Midtown in its search and is looking all around Manhattan to plant its flag.

“We want to broaden our thinking,” Dodd said. “There could be other locations in the city that very well meet our business needs.”

C&W currently occupies nearly 156,282 square feet spread across three floors at 1290 A of A, having relocated there from 51 West 52nd Street after signing a 15-year lease in 2008.

The exploration process for its headquarters will be led by Dodd and COO Michelle MacKay, while Paige Engeldrum, Ethan Silverstein, Matthias Li and Bryan Boisi will represent C&W in lease negotiations.

Even before the pandemic set in, Dodd said C&W started to take a look at its office needs in the city and — after its own research into the evolution of the modern office because of COVID-19 — started to come up with plans.

C&W decided in January to consolidate its Lower Manhattan office at One World Trade Center and its Downtown Brooklyn office at One Pierrepont Plaza into a single Manhattan location, separate from its headquarters, and put both spaces on the sublet market. Dodd said the firm was close to finalizing a deal for that space.

The company has no plans to leave its Queens outpost at 118-35 Queens Boulevard.

C&W reopened its 1290 Avenue of the Americas office nearly a year ago and attendance has boomed recently, with Dodd saying it felt like 2019 in recent weeks as more and more staff get vaccinated. Unlike firms like Morgan Stanley, C&W is encouraging vaccinations but is not making it a requirement to return to the office.

Dodd added that the search for new digs wasn’t spurred by negative experiences with Vornado — he praised the landlord’s handling of safety requirements during the pandemic — but as an example for its clients.

“We want this to be a showcase for the advice we give and the type of space that we want to create for our clients,” Dodd said.