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There's never a dull moment at the W&H Properties-owned Empire State Building, which has been undergoing perhaps the largest upgrade program in Manhattan—the $500M top-to-bottom, inside-and-out renovation of the landmark space. We dropped by this week to get an update from the building's director of leasing, CBRE'sStephen Eynon.
From reworking the exterior to improving house infrastructurelike the HVAC, corridors and restrooms, the owner is leveraging the building's historic charm with the added goal of making it moreeffective for modern corporate users, Steve says. It tapped architects Beyer Blinder Belle, the force behind former Rockefeller Center, Chrysler Building and Grand Central Terminal rehabs, to redesign the space. Renovations started in late 2006, and the lobbyshould be completed by March.
The first thing you notice walking in the building is the extensive scaffolding covering the lobby (above, you've probably realized, is a post-rehab rendering). Steve notes that the intricate Art Deco ceilingis being recreated by hand, and will be the most striking part of the building. A more prominent, central concierge desk will be located at the 34th Street entrance, as well as a satellite concierge desk at the 33rd Street entrance, which will allow separate tenant and visitorspace in the lobby.
EMPIRE STATE  (RE)BUILDINGLeasing overhaul is also part of the rebranding. Before CBRE stepped in two years ago, there were over 500 tenantsaveraging 1,600 SFeach. Through lease rollovers andrelocations, Steve has beenconsolidating the space into blocks aimed at larger users—and now there areonly 320 tenants. Over the summer,Coty took 90k SF of space on the 14thand 15th floors, which used to house 42 tenants. Skanskaalso took 24k SF on the 32nd floor, once home to 12 different companies. Steve is currently closing 8,900-SF and 11k-SF leases, but he wouldn't divulge the goods.
The space fusion has also led to a unique opportunity in the building—the largest block of office space at such a height in Manhattan. The 27k-SF 61st floor offers a 360-degree view of the city, rivaled only by the tower's observation desk, Steve says. Even though he's been consolidating at work, Steve's been multiplyingat home—he and his wife Hope are expecting twin boys in mid-December, joining older sis Mabel. He was also recently honored by the Boy Scouts of America as the “Good Scout of 2008” for raising $75k to send inner-city kids to summer camp.