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NEW YORK CITY-Vantone Industrial Co., Ltd., one of the largest real estate investment companies in China, signed a 20-year lease for 190,810 square feet of space at the future One World Trade Center. Following the signing on Thursday at the monthly meeting of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s board, Vantone provided a $10-million letter of credit to the authority, which owns the tower.

The deal paves the way for a Vantone unit, China Center New York LLC, to build out a business and cultural facility that will occupy portions of the 64th floor as well as the entire 65th through 69th floors of the 102-story tower now rising at Ground Zero. The new facility will serve as a hub for Chinese firms developing US operations, as well as US companies looking to do business in China or expand ongoing operations.

Contrary to widely reported name changes, Port Authority spokesperson Steve Coleman confirmed to Globest.com, that One World Trade Center will still incorporate ‘Freedom Tower’ as the second half of its name.

A Port Authority spokesman tells GlobeSt.com that Vantone will initially pay $80 per square foot, with escalations in years seven, 11 and 16 of the lease. The deal includes an option to lease an additional two contiguous floors by Dec. 31 of this year. For now, total aggregate rent over the 20-year lease is estimated at $333.3 million, according to Port Authority documents.

In a statement, Port Authority chair Anthony R. Cosica says “signing up the China Center on competitive terms and in a struggling economy is a firm stamp of approval for the World Trade Center site as a world-class business destination.” Jones Lang LaSalle negotiated for China Center while the Port Authority used its own team to finalize deal terms.

Further sweetening the pot for China Center will be savings of $5 per square foot, or around $850,000 annually for the next 15 years, thanks to the Empire State Development Corp.’s WTC rent reduction program. “We awarded our WTC Rent Reduction to Vantone yesterday with a formal notification letter,” an ESDC spokesman tells GlobeSt.com. He adds that the state-funded program provides rent reductions for commercial tenants signing leases representing the first 750,000 square feet of space at each of the WTC towers. The Port Authority’s board voted earlier this year to authorize a total of $61 million in rent credits through the program.

Also, the economic development arm of the Partnership for New York City, the New York City Investment Fund committed up to $3 million in funding to support the China Center. The Investment Fund worked with Vantone to gain the support of the Chinese government for one of the first authorized offshore real-estate investments, according to a release.

As reported in GlobeSt.com, the Port Authority had first authorized a lease for Vantone last June, entailing five mid-level contiguous floors in the future 1 WTC tower. As with the lease approved by the authority on Thursday, terms included an option to lease an additional two contiguous floors at the same price. Changes to the initial agreement include an additional 1,372 rentable square feet of office space on a portion of the adjacent transfer floor and inclusion of above-grade mechanical space. In addition, according to Port Authroity documents, “certain termination rights would be added to the lease terms that favor both parties. And, in lieu of One World Trade Center LLC’s obligation to pay money damages in the event of substantial delays in turning over the leased premises to China Center, additional periods of free rent will be provided.”

Beijing Vantone was founded in 1993. In 2004, the company partnered with the large, state owned Tianjin Teda Group and evolved into the largest real estate investment company in Beijing.

In a Port Authority statement, Vantone chairman Lun Feng says the company is “thrilled to have a finalized agreement with the Port Authority and are honored to be the first private company to sign on as a tenant in the United States most important development project.”

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