Four years after opening, 20 percent of 1 WTC remains empty. Here’s why

"It’s a site that’s had continued construction for the last 17 years."

One World Trade Center (Credit: iStock)
One World Trade Center (Credit: iStock)

Four years after opening its doors, 20 percent of 1 World Trade Center remains empty.

The Durst Organization, which co-owns the building with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, has faced several challenges in filling the tower’s 3.1 million square feet of space, including a slower-than-expected office market, competition from Hudson Yards and a site that has largely felt unfinished.

“It’s a site that’s had continued construction for the last 17 years,” Eric Engelhardt, head of leasing at 1 WTC, told the Wall Street Journal.

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Still, interest in the building seems to have recently spiked, according to the developer. Earlier this month, Durst backed out of negotiations with WeWork, which was expected to lease roughly 220,000 square feet at the tower. Durst indicated that it had received better offers.

The building was originally called Freedom Tower, but the owners felt that name served as a constant reminder of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Brokers and developers working on the site have said that it’s past hasn’t deterred tenants.

“You can never forget,” Silverstein Companies’ Marty Burger. “But it’s just as safe or vulnerable as any other place in the city.”

According to CBRE, availability rate downtown was 14.2 percent at the end of June, up from 11.3 percent in early 2017. Other towers on the site 4 WTC and 3 WTC are respectively nearly 100 percent and 38 percent leased. Burger told the Journal that 3 WTC should be fully leased in a year. [WSJ] — Kathryn Brenzel

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