PHILADELPHIA-National Union Fire Insurance Co. of Pittsburgh has signed a lease for 123,485 sf at One Liberty Pl. The insurer, which is a member company of New York City-based AIG, will relocate from approximately 98,000 sf at 1700 Market St.

This is one of the largest class A big-block office lease agreements this year. It comes at a time when there are few large blocks of space available in Center City and the overall vacancy rate is the lowest in five years. The lease takes occupancy in the 1.2-million-sf One Liberty to 95%, according to Bill Hirschfeld, senior director of the local office of Cushman & Wakefield.

Hirschfeld and Sun Park, a C&W associate, represented the building owner, identified only as Philadelphia Liberty Place LP. Edward O’Brien, partner in Wilmington, DE-based McConnell Johnson Real Estate LLC, represented the tenant.

Hirschfeld declined to disclose the aggregate value of the agreement, but tells it is for a 16-year term. The asking rent rate at One Liberty, he says, is $35 per sf, plus electric. The rate is an indication of the health of the CBD office market. The quoted rates for this building approximately 16 months ago ranged between $28 per sf and $30 per sf.

The 61-story trophy at 1650 Market St. was completed in 1987 and reigned as the tallest office tower in Pennsylvania until Comcast Center topped off this year. While the tenant needed more space, Hirschfeld says the primary motivation for the move was One Liberty’s trophy status, “which represented an opportunity to upgrade the company’s image.”

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