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A Decade After Groundbreaking, 3 WTC Officially Opens Its Doors

Following years of delays, Silverstein Properties opened its latest downtown office tower, 3 World Trade Center, on Monday. Now, all eyes are turning to the final building, 2 World Trade.

Lary Silverstein and other World Trade Center executives cut the ribbon for the opening of 3 World Trade Center

“When our city was attacked on 9/11, our collective response was, and our civic responsibility went far beyond, rebuilding what we had lost … We were also charged with creating a more vibrant and connected neighborhood than any that had ever existed here before,” Silverstein Properties Chairman Larry Silverstein said at the official ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday. “Starting with 7 World Trade Center, and the rest of the towers that followed we sought to create modern … technologically advanced offices.”

The 80-story 3WTC — which is opening with 40% of its space leased — has a total of 2.5M SF of office and tops out at just over 1,000 feet. Designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Richard Rodgers, it is the second-tallest building in the World Trade Center complex and the fifth-tallest in the city.

Larry Silverstein speaks to media at the opening of 3 World Trade Center.

“The first thing we had to do was to keep this memorial in recognition of the people who we lost. Now that’s been done … Finally, the responsibility is to finish the building,” Silverstein told the media before the ceremony. "We've finished tower three ... followed by tower two. And when that's done, the trade center is completely rebuilt. And I'd say that's about four years from today."

Two World Trade Center, at 200 Greenwich St., designed by Bjarke Ingels Group, will feature a total of 2.8M SF of offices. Silverstein is still waiting for a major company to sign a lease at the tower before it starts vertical construction.

The post-9/11 recovery, along with the transformation of Lower Manhattan from a 9-to-5 officer district to a mixed-use hub, were major themes of the ribbon-cutting.

“9/11 wasn’t just a physical attack, it was an attack on our core values,” Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen said. “The completion of 3 World Trade proves we can continue to come back stronger, bigger, bolder … today’s celebration shows the doubters couldn’t have been more wrong."

3 World Trade Center, developed by Silverstein Properties

Unlike 7 World Trade Center, which opened with Silverstein itself as its only occupant, this tower already has its anchor tenant.

Advertising media company GroupM inked a deal for 520K SF in 2013, and expanded by 170K SF three years later. It will bring a total of 4,500 employees when it moves into the space next month. Global consulting giant McKinsey & Co. also signed a lease for 186K SF at the $2.7B building last month. 

They will join stock exchange platform IEX, which is moving from 4 World Trade next door and taking 45K SF across a full floor in the building.

View from 3 World Trade Center of September 11 Memorial and Museum

“The struggle to finance tower three was enormous, there was tremendous press that the building shouldn’t be built, and a lot of pushback on it,” CBRE Tri-State CEO Mary Ann Tighe, who leads the leasing team for the building, told Bisnow at the ceremony.

“GroupM in my mind is the prototypical tech and creative tenant that needs a building like 3 World Trade Center,” she said. “They need the scale because the growth is phenomenal and they wanted to be in a location that made it easy to attract the talent they wanted … without GroupM, I wonder if McKinsey would have signed up."

There is no doubt Silverstein will face competition as it continues to lease the rest of the building.

Across the Downtown market, there is significant space available, and tenants who want to be in the area can afford to be choosy. At Durst Organization’s One World Trade Center, for example, Condé Nast recently put 350K SF on the sublease market, in addition to the 25% of the supertall that has never been occupied.

Brookfield Place in Lower Manhattan

In May, Lower Manhattan saw positive office absorption for the first time in 2018, according to Colliers International, but the city as a whole still has to grapple with around 7.64M SF of new space becoming available this year.

Tighe said she expects that firms looking for space in the downtown market will look at both the open space at One World Trade and newly opened 3 World Trade Center. Both offer something different, however, and leases at any building in the complex are good for the whole.

"As One World flourishes, so do the other buildings," she said, adding that she expects 3 World Trade will be full within the next two years.

“The folks that come here feel like it’s also an act of patriotism,” Tighe said, who was visibly emotional discussing the earliest tenants who came to the site.

Last year, Silverstein told Bisnow that he did not expect the building of the World Trade Center in the wake of the 2001 terrorist attack to take quite so long.

“I thought within a period of eight, nine or 10 years we’d be finished,” he said at the time. “The experience we had on 9/11 changed us. Totally. And changed our way of thinking. And gave us a realization of how not to build high-rise office buildings.”

“We designed these buildings to be to be impervious. And I mean impervious. These buildings will stand, no matter what the circumstances.”