NEW YORK CITY-American Express is close to inking a deal that would make it the first tenant to sign on at Silverstein Properties’ 7 World Trade Center. Sources tell a deal for approximately 20,000 sf is pending.

Representatives from American Express, Silverstein Properties and CB Richard Ellis, which is handling the leasing of the 1.7-million-sf site, would not comment. During the unveiling ceremony for the new Freedom Tower design at the end of June, Larry Silverstein said a series of incentives recently put in place for the World Trade Center site and 7 WTC would encourage tenants, adding that there had been a remarkable amount of increased interest since the incentives were announced. “The phones are ringing. I’m encouraged by it.” He said he’s had preliminary talk with prospective tenants in the private sector regarding large amounts of space.

Late last month, legislation was enacted that calls for initiatives to promote commercial space occupancy in Lower Manhattan. These include a $5-per-sf incentive for the first 750,000 sf of commercial space leased anywhere on the World Trade Center site and a $3.80-per-sf incentive for the first 750,000 sf leased at 7 World Trade. Silverstein will have to match these incentives.

The 52-story office is bound by Greenwich, Vesey, Washington and Barclay streets. Tishman Construction Corp., which built the original 7 World Trade Center for Silverstein, is contractor for the project as well as for the Freedom Tower. Earlier this year, the New York City Industrial Development Agency approved $475 million of New York Liberty Bonds to be used for the reconstruction and permanent financing of 7 WTC, which is being constructed on a 58,000-sf site. Tenant floors begin at the 11th floor above grade. The untenanted first 10 floors largely are given over to a series of huge bays housing transformers for a Consolidated Edison substation.

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