Pierre Omidyar’s Big Brother-battling enterprise sets up in Silicon Alley

Activist news group’s site, The Intercept, publishes NSA documents stolen by Edward Snowden

New York /
Jun.June 26, 2014 11:09 AM

First Look Media, a technology-driven, independent journalism site launched by eBay co-founder Pierre Omidyar last year, inked a lease for three floors, taking 58,206 square feet at 114 Fifth Avenue, off Union Square, sources told The Real Deal.

Omidyar’s fledgling news operation, which he kick-started with initial funding of $50 million, publishes the Intercept. That site is dedicated to releasing National Security Agency documents stolen by Edward Snowden. The Intercept launched in February and was co-founded by former Guardian US and Salon columnist Glenn Greenwald, who is also a contributor to the site. The Intercept is led by former Gawker editor-in-chief John Cook.

Currently located at 162 Fifth Avenue, the company signed a 10-year lease in late May for three floors at 114 Fifth Avenue, where the asking rent on the upper floors is $88 per foot, sources said. That’s far above the average asking rent in Midtown South, which Colliers International reported was $55.89 per square foot in May. First Look is taking two top floors —18 and 19 — of the rehabilitated L&L Holding building located at the corner of 17th Street, as well as the ninth floor. The building is about 70 percent leased even before the building is set to reopen in several months, a source said.

The Commercial Observer first reported in March the tech firm was eying the building, but at that time sources said the company was looking to lease just one floor.

L&L, led by CEO David Levinson, acquired the 388,557-square foot building in December 2012 for $165 million in a joint venture with private equity firm Lubert-Adler, and began the ongoing modernization of the building.

Other high-profile tenants that have leased space in the property include Mastercard for floors 10 through 12, and Mashable, for floors 14 and 15.

The leasing agent at the building, David Berkey, an executive vice president at L&L, declined to comment. First Look did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Billionaire Omidyar announced the formation of First Look Media in 2013, and The Intercept is the first publication to launch. First Look has been poaching a slew of national reporters and bloggers in recent months to staff up. Another publication, to be led by former Rolling Stone contributing editor Matt Taibbi, is expected later this year.


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