Leases  ·  Office

Nonprofit Acumen Fund Extends Lease at 40 Worth Street

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At a time when one out of four office spaces in Lower Manhattan are collecting cobwebs, one century-old tower is teeming with tenants who want to stay put for the long run.

Acumen Fund, a nonprofit that invests in enterprises helping low-income Americans, signed an 11-year extension of its lease this week at 40 Worth Street with the building’s owner, GFP Real Estate.

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The 22-year-old charitable investment fund has worked out of its third-floor suite in the Tribeca building since 2015, according to the landlord. But the firm wanted to lock in a lower price for its 11,743-square-foot office well beyond its current lease, which was set to expire in 2026. (Neither party would make the terms of the lease public, although one real estate site priced the rent in the building at just below $85 per square foot.)

“Acumen thought there was an opportune time to extend its lease to take advantage of this market,” said Nick Farmakis, a vice chairman at Savills, who represented Acumen in the lease. “They like the space, they like the location, and the building itself is well maintained. It made sense to add terms in this soft environment, and the landlord was amenable to doing it.”

GFP — which handled the deal in-house — has purposely sought to fill its 16 floors with a mix of government agencies and nonprofits that aren’t going to go out of business because of Wall Street’s fluctuations. 

“We’ve always looked to nonprofits because we’ve given them a cheap deal,” Jeff Gural, GFP’s chairman, said. “When a nonprofit’s lease is up we typically, in a good market, won’t give them a big increase. The brokers know we work with nonprofits and they’re easy to deal with, especially if we like the nonprofit.”

Built in 1929 and designed by Jardine, Hill & Murdock, the 800,000-square-foot building became known as the Merchants Square Building. The Class B tower may lack the amenities of its younger downtown counterparts, but its location and skyline views have attracted a myriad of medical offices and criminal justice groups, Gural said.

Weill Cornell Medicine set up a primary care office on the fourth floor. The Innocence Project, whose mission is overturning wrongful convictions, doubled its footprint in the building when it signed a 10-year lease in 2019. And Legal Aid Society consolidated its three Manhattan offices consisting of 200,000 square feet into its Worth Street headquarters in a 30-year lease it inked in 2021. (GFP created a nonprofit office condominium arrangement that allowed the Legal Aid to reap even greater savings, Gural said.)

Additionally, the building is home to the civil legal assistance office Legal Services and a satellite of the Manhattan District Attorney, which Gural called “one-stop shop” for the city’s legal community. 

Even as nonprofits embraced hybrid office arrangements allowing workers to stay home for part of the week, the Worth Street tower has remained nearly full. Gural believes the office’s lively location and the in-person demands of legal and medical work have encouraged tenants to come into the office more frequently.

“Tribeca is a cool neighborhood and Hudson Square, where Disney is building a big campus two blocks down on Varick Street, is nearby,” Gural said. “Most of my buildings are full. We have a good reputation and we’re dealmakers.”