The only way is up. Every bit will help push toward filling out T1 and T4 and hopefully spur the completion of 2 and 3.
Connecticut Law Tribune
July 16, 2012
With Move to New World Trade Center Offices, Wilmer Signs on to Downtown Revival
By Sara Randazzo
Over the past year and a half, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr chief administrative officer Marian Freed has learned every tiny detail about her firm's new downtown Manhattan office space. The material used to construct the massive new boardroom table? Carrara marble (the same kind of stone Michelangelo used to sculpt his David, by the way). The height of the ceilings? Nine feet, six inches. The visitor seats in partner offices? An ergonomically correct model known as the "freedom chair."
On Monday, those chairs and every other feature in the fully customized space began to get a workout, as the firm's 350 New York employees—including 200 lawyers—arrived for their first day of work at 7 World Trade Center. The move shifts Wilmer's New York office to lower Manhattan after 13 years in midtown, and makes it the first major law firm to relocate downtown since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center's twin towers and drove many businesses out of the area.
While neither Wilmer nor Silverstein Properties—the landlord of four of the six buildings that will ultimately make up the new World Trade Center—will discuss the financial terms of the 20-year lease the firm signed in April 2011, New York office head Charles Platt says the firm is paying "substantially less" than it did at its previous home at 399 Park Avenue. In its new space, Wilmer occupies 210,000 square feet spread across five of the highest floors in the 52-story building, with floor-to-ceiling glass walls offering panoramic views of the city. Options allowing Wilmer to take over more space are built into the lease, which also has a unique cost-sharing clause related to any improvements made to the building that result in energy being used more efficiently.
Platt says the firm needed to move its New York operations because the Park Avenue space had reached capacity, in part because of the 23 attorneys that have joined the office so far this year. Relocating downtown, he adds, was not hard to sell to Wilmer employees, though some will now have longer commutes.
"People are really welcoming it because so much of the focus on New York City is downtown and Brooklyn," Platt says. "Midtown is for tourists. Some people are looking at it as a reflection of the firm, which is very young, dynamic, and embraces change."
As electronic documents and computer research take over from hard copies and books, Platt notes, offices no longer need to accommodate the mountains of paper they once did. "Our offices will be configured so we won’t need as much hard copy," Wilmer's Platt says. "It’ll be pretty exciting to unleash ourselves from these things."
One example of how the new offices differ from the old: the space traditionally known as the library is called the "Commons." While it does contain some books, it also has room for lawyers to work remotely with wireless Internet, take a break with a Wii video game system, and sip a latte at the coffee bar.
Jeremy Moss, senior vice president of leasing for Silverstein, says a growing number of law firms—including Proskauer Rose; Covington & Burling; Dechert; and O'Melveny & Myers—have looked to new construction as their New York leases come up for renewal over the past decade. Firms that go that route, Moss adds, can often house the same number of people in 10 percent to 15 percent less space because of more efficient floor plans typical of new buildings.
"Because law firms spend so many hours in the space, and use it so intensely, they really benefit from new building advances," he says, citing column-free interiors, the ability to use fire stairs to move between floors, and the lack of bulky convectors taking up space between windows and the rest of the office.
Moss says that 7 World Trade, which opened in 2005, is now fully leased and that Silverstein is actively wooing law firms as potential tenants in its other World Trade Center properties. Moss says several are considering signing on for 2015 or 2016—at which point the rest of the towers will be open—though none are confirmed yet. (As previously reported on The Am Law Daily, law firms have also been scouting One World Trade, the so-called Freedom Tower, which is owned by the Durst Organization and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.)
To negotiate the new lease, Wilmer relied on retired real estate partner Joel Sirkin and Boston real estate partner Paul Jakubowski.
Elsewhere in New York, Kaye Scholer confirms that it is moving its headquarters office from 425 Park Avenue to the as-yet-unfinished 250 West 55th Street, which is also slated to be the new home of Morrison & Foerster's New York office. (MoFo has been on a bit of an office-renting spree, having also signed a 15-year lease in downtown Los Angeles with the help of real estate brokerage Jones Lang LaSalle. The firm, which currently has about 100 lawyers is Los Angeles at 555 West Fifth Street, is taking the top four floors, about 77,300 square feet, in the nearby Aon Center at 707 Wilshire Boulevard.)
A Kaye Scholer spokeswoman said Monday that the partnership has approved the move and is now working to negotiate a lease in the Boston Properties-owned building, which is scheduled to open in 2014. Crain's New York Business reported earlier this month that Kaye Scholer is expected to take 260,000 square feet in the 55th Street property. Renewing the lease on its current New York space was not an option, Crain's reported, because the building's owners plan to tear it down once all the current tenants' leases expire.
Akerman Senterfitt, meanwhile, will also be moving its New York operations, which include 45 lawyers, from 335 Madison Avenue to 666 Fifth Avenue. Akerman said in a statement that it plans to move in January 2012 to the new 48,000-square-foot space, which is 20 percent larger than the offices the firm now inhabits. Steven Polivy, Akerman's New York managing shareholder, said in the statement that the new space will be much more efficient than the firm's current offices.
A bit to the south, Cozen O'Connor is planning to relocate its Philadelphia headquarters from 1900 Market Street in the Center City district to One Liberty Place, Philadelphia's second-tallest building.
Cozen said in an announcement issued Friday that it signed a 17-year lease to occupy approximately 200,000 square feet on nine floors at One Liberty Place starting in the spring of 2015. The firm said it plans to begin customizing the space, which is owned by Metropolis Investment Holdings and currently occupied by Reed Smith, in spring 2014. Cozen now has 215 of its 500 attorneys in Philadelphia, as well as 250 staff members.
Cozen's current space has been something of an annoyance over the past year. The firm sued its landord 1900 Market GP in July 2011, claiming the property owner had failed to adequately maintain the space—including the elevators and lobby—in line with commercial standards. Through the suit, which went to arbitration in May, the firm hoped to get out of its lease before it expires in 2015. A firm spokesman confirmed Monday that its current lease expires in 2015 but did not have an immediate comment on the current status of the landlord dispute.
Like Wilmer, Cozen looked internally for lawyers to negotiate its new office lease: Jeffrey Leonard, who cochairs the firm's real estate practice group, and real estate member Adam Silverman. Drinker Biddle & Reath partner David Ebby represented Metropolis.
Copyright 2012. ALM Media Properties, LLC.
The only way is up. Every bit will help push toward filling out T1 and T4 and hopefully spur the completion of 2 and 3.
July 17, 2012
Law Office Wilmer Relishes Their Historical Role in Moving into the New World Trade Center
Posted by danielj
Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr’s chief administrative officer Marian Freed has been taking it all in. Exuberant to be part of living history, she has relished the details of her new office, the 7 World Trade Center, a model rebuilt where the third tower collapsed on September 11. The height of the ceilings, the make of the tables, the ergonomic chair models known as “freedom chairs” — she enjoys contemplating it all.
And the 7 WTC is a deal. Firms have cowered away from the fateful World Trade Center area, so rent’s cheaper than it was at Wilmer’s previous location — “substantially less” says New York office head Charles Platt. They will occupy 210,00 square feet across the the highest five floors of the 52-story building.
Wilmer made the move after adding 23 attorney’s to their already hefty outfit. On Monday, 200 lawyers of their 350 set into the new office.
“People are really welcoming it because so much of the focus on New York City is downtown and Brooklyn,” said Platt. “Midtown is for tourists. Some people are looking at it as a reflection of the firm, which is very young, dynamic, and embraces change.”
And being young, dynamic, fresh and exciting, they have some exciting layouts in their new office. “Our offices will be configured so we won’t need as much hard copy,” Platt said. “It’ll be pretty exciting to unleash ourselves from these things.”
In their place they will have a “commons” instead of a library, which will have in addition to books wireless Internet for a relaxing surf on the information highway and also a Wii game system and coffee bar.
The new floor plans are also hip and up to date, efficiently able to house the same number of people in 10 to 15 percent less space.
7 WTC is part of the downtown revival, as the phoenix that was sunk by terrorist madness rises from its ashes. One World Trade Center will soon be their completed neighbor. Formerly known as the Freedom Tower, this epic erection will stand a symbolic 1,776 feet — the tallest building in the Western hemisphere.
© 2012, JD Journal
Look what's popped up on the cover of some indie band's album:
Green Buildings New York City
October 25, 2012
WilmerHale Lands LEED Gold for Energy Aligned Clause-Backed 7 WTC Office
By Stephen Del Percio
After becoming the first tenant to implement New York City's Energy Aligned Lease Clause, the law firm WilmerHale has announced another environmental milestone for its offices at 7 World Trade Center: LEED for Commercial Interiors Gold certification.
WilmerHale announced last week that its New York City office at Silverstein Properties' 7 World Trade Center has been awarded LEED for Commercial Interiors Gold certification. The law firm is now one of only three in New York City that has earned a Gold rating under LEED-CI. WilmerHale moved into its space at 7 WTC in July of 2012. The 52-story, 1.2 million-square-foot tower - which is now 100-percent leased - was the first commercial office building in New York City to earn a LEED Gold designation from USGBC back in 2007.
Specific green features within WilmerHale's space supporting its LEED-CI Gold application include optimized energy performance when it comes to lighting, HVAC, equipment and appliances; reduced water usage; increased ventilation; convenient access to public transportation; as well as bike racks, changing rooms and showers. Various regional materials were used during construction of the space, which features glass-walled offices flooding the interior space with natural light and reducing the need for corridor lighting, as well as Energy Star-rated appliances and equipment and ongoing storage and collection of recyclables.
WilmerHale's LEED certification isn't the only environmental milestone the law firm has celebrated in connection with its 7 World Trade Center offices. It remains the only private sector tenant - to our knowledge - that has implemented New York City's Energy Aligned Clause within a commercial office lease. As you may recall, the Clause was developed by a task force organized by the Mayor's Office of Long-Term Planning and Sustainability. It aims to address the much-discussed split incentive, which remains prevalent in most commercial office leases in New York City and refers to the scenario where a landlord pays for building capital improvements but does not benefit from any reductions in operating expenses that are created because its tenants pay for operating expenses under the terms of the lease.
This is because although many commercial office leases do allow landlords to pass the costs of capital improvements through to tenants, the time frame for the landlord to recoup those costs - typically over the working lifetime of the improvement, which can extend for decades - creates a practical impediment to landlords actually making any energy-efficient capital improvements to their buildings in the first place. The Clause aims to address this imbalance: once qualifying improvements are made, tenants should not only realize actual savings, but will pay the landlord 80 percent of their projected savings as assessed by an independent, NYSERDA-approved engineer (creating a buffer in case savings are not as projected) as part of building operating costs. After the payback period (cost divided by projected savings) for the improvement expires and compensates the landlord for its investment, the tenant continues to enjoy the benefits of the energy savings.
© 2012 gbNYC Real Estate Group