NEW YORK CITY-A 275,000-sf block of newly available Midtown office space is offering one more option for companies rethinking their future needs in the wake of the World Trade Center attacks.

The space in the 900,000-sf Sports Illustrated building at 135 W. 50th St. near Rockefeller Center won’t be ready for occupancy until mid-second quarter of 2002 when a $12-million to $15-million renovation of the building is completed. Even so, many companies are expressing serious interest.

“If this space was available today, it would already have been rented,” says Tom Bow, vice president of leasing at the Durst Organization, which controls the building under a long-term management agreement with the right to purchase. “This is definitely a unique opportunity and we’ve had a lot of activity. We hope to have a substantial amount of the space rented out by the end of the year, although no deals have been signed yet.”

Bow says the Durst Organization is having conversations with financial services companies, insurance companies, computer companies and mid-size law firms. The asking price is $65 per sf with a work allowance of $30 per square foot and a free-rent period equal to construction time. The asking price has been the same since mid-summer, and Bow said Durst is sensitive about not taking advantage of changed market conditions caused by the destruction at the World Trade Center.

Most of the available space at 135 West 50th St. consists of full floors, ranging in size from the 54,000-sf eighth floor to the 22,500-sf 20th floor. About 7,800 sf is available on the building’s top floor, the 23rd. Floors 13 through 20 offer a 220,000-sf block of contiguous space. The space re-entering the market was sublet by American Management Associations when it moved out of the building in 1998. Those subleases will roll over at the end of this year.

The improvements to the building will include a new lobby and front entrance, installation of new elevator cabs, terrazzo floors, mechanical system upgrades, new uniform retail facades, HVAC work and new bathrooms on the previously subleased floors. Demolition of the available space will allow tenants to configure according to their needs. The building was originally constructed in the 1960s. Other major tenants include UBS Paine Webber and Alliance Capital Corp.

The Durst Organization, founded in 1915, is one of New York’s oldest and largest privately owned real estate firms, with an office-building portfolio comprising more than 7.5 million sf.

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