Durst Settles 1 WTC Rent With Condé Nast, Targets Landmark Theatres

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The Durst Organization is bent on getting its money back.

Publishing giant Condé Nast repaid millions in back rent that it owed on its 1.2 million-square-foot office at Durst and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s One World Trade Center. Now, Durst is settling a separate rent dispute with Landmark Theatres for $49 million in damages and unpaid rent.

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The publisher of Vogue, Vanity Fair and The New Yorker, which signed a 25-year lease with the Port Authority and Durst in 2011, withheld $2.4 million in rent in January and sought to reduce its square footage at the 104-story skyscraper, Commercial Observer reported. 

In a May statement, the Port Authority claimed that Condé Nast had withheld about $9.6 million in rent from January through April — millions it has now paid, the New York Post first reported. 

The publisher, controlled by parent company Advance Publications, is working with a brokerage team from JLL and Durst to sublease space that Condé Nast won’t be using when its employees return on Sept. 7.

“We’re collaborating with Advance and JLL to sublease vacant space,” Jordan Barrowitz, a representative of the Durst Organization, told CO.

Condé Nast first hired JLL to put 350,000 square feet on the sublease market in 2018, before the pandemic forced layoffs and furloughs at the company. In 2019, it offloaded 50,000 square feet to Ambac Financial Group. Social networking site Reddit, which Advance Publications is a major shareholder of, is relocating from several New York locations to take 40,000 square feet of Condé Nast’s One World Trade space, Real Estate Weekly reported.

The media giant isn’t the only tenant looking to offload space at One World Trade Center, which had its leasing rate drop from 93 percent in February 2020 to 90 percent in March. Moody’s Corporation put 75,212 square feet in the building on the sublet market, and brokerage Cushman & Wakefield plans to sublet about 10,000 square feet in the tower.

Meanwhile, on the Upper West Side, an arthouse theater at 657 West 57th Street is in disarray. Durst is suing Landmark Theatres for $46 million in unpaid rent; $1 million in accumulated arrears from January 2020; and $1.6 million in damages for allegedly removing ticket kiosks, light fixtures and 700 seats from the theater, according to the lawsuit. 

The suit alleges that Landmark “​​under the cover of darkness in the middle of the night” stole the property. In July, Durst filed a motion for summary judgement in New York Supreme Court

Landmark signed a 20-year lease for the space in 2016, but tried to renegotiate the terms after real estate mogul Charles Cohen’s Cohen Media Group bought the company in late 2018, The Real Deal reported. 

Durst and the new ownership couldn’t agree on new terms and, when the pandemic hit, Landmark closed the theater in August 2020. Durst is actively showing the space to potential tenants, said Barrowitz. 

Condé Nast, Landmark and JLL did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Celia Young can be reached at cyoung@commercialobserver.com.