NEW YORK CITY-Letters of credit locking in funds for the 1.5 million-sf New York Times building were signed this morning, clearing the way for the 2003 groundbreaking on the 52-story tower. Yesterday, the 99-year, $85.6-million ground lease for the building was finalized.

The Times’ new headquarters building is being developed through a network of joint ventures between the New York Times Co., Forest City Ratner Co. and financial partner ING Real Estate. The three-pronged deal, which was arranged by Insignia/ESG vice chairman Mary Ann Tighe and executive managing director Gregory Tosko, includes an alliance between the Times and FCRC; a separate deal between FCRC and ING; and the ground lease and land acquisition agreement between the Times, FCRC and the City and State of New York. FCRC will be the developer of the project, which will open in two phases during 2005 and 2006.

The building will be located on the east side of Eighth Avenue between 40th and 41st streets, opposite the Port Authority Bus Terminal. The 79,000-sf parcel, which will be acquired via condemnation by the state, occupies the entire block along Eighth Avenue and extends roughly half a block east toward Seventh Avenue.

The property is within the 42nd Street Development Project, the city/state partnership established in the mid-1980s to oversee the revitalization of Times Square.

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