Sunday, April 10, 2011

World Trade Center Square Footage

The arch and austere posters to the "The 9/11 Forum," which self-identifies as the "Intelligent and evidence-based discussion of 9/11 issues," have brought a curious discrepancy to my attention, the facts of which have been laying fallow there since May of 2009, on a thread called "WTC 1 Tenant Floorspace Usage."

I have worked under the presumption that each tenantable floor of the World Trade Center had a minimum of about 45,000 square feet of rentable space, with that figure climbing as you moved up in the towers, where a thinner steel structure, and fewer elevators, allowed for an increase in the useable floor space. A tenants list sourced to the CoStar Group, and published early on by CNN, is the sole source in the public record that includes the square footage allotment for many of the firms in the trade center. It is there that the mysteriously missing Atlantic Bank of New York, for instance, is reported to have occupied 50,061 square feet on the 106th floor of the South Tower.

However, if you take the exterior dimension of the tower footprints, which are both 208 feet by 208 feet, you arrive at a maximum possible gross floor area of 43,264 s.f. The unrentable core structure in each tower is reported to be 88 feet by 138 feet, or 12,144 s.f. This would translate into a standard net leasable tenant space on each floor of less than 31,120 s.f.

So why do Port Authority press releases announce high-profile lease signings that include irreconcilable floor and square-footage ratios? For instance, when Marsh & McClellan signed leases in September and November 1998 for additional new office space in the North Tower, the Port Authority announced they'd taken 361,000 s.f. of full-floor space between the 94th and the 100th floor, as well as the partial 93rd floor. However, Fred Alger was said to occupy 36,078 s.f. on the 93rd floor, which doesn't leave much left over. So Marsh had only the seven full floors to accommodate their lease holdings---which would require 51,571 s.f. per floor, which amounts to a technical impossibility.

This lease isn't an anomaly. All the major lease signings in 1997 and 1998---as announced---have this same problem with feasibility, which leads me to believe the Port Authority was either insincere, duplicitous, or downright amateurish in their role as market-rate landlord.

The lease signed with Brown & Wood on January 1, 1998, for a term of 13 years and four months, was for 223,100 s.f. on the 54th, 56th, 57th, 58th and 59th floors. or 44,620 s.f per floor---a neat trick when the exterior dimensions of the building encompass only 43,264 s.f.

Werner Erhard's est competition to the role Scientology played in the 9/11 narrative, the Landmark Education Corporation, signed a 15-year, 7-month lease on November 23, 1998 for 44,407 s.f. on the 15th floor of the North Tower. They also signed up to occupy space on the 7th floor, but that is an untenantable mechanical floor according to all other sources. Empire Blue Cross signed for 461,000 s.f. on 10 floors, or an impossible 46,100 s.f. per floor.

Making these sorts of determinations has only recently become possible with the Port Authority's January 2011 F.O.I.L. release of an official tenants list for the trade center complex. For the previous nine years the public has had to make do with the second-hand, third-party, and forth-rate anecdotal information disseminated by an ultimately unaccountable, for-profit company, the CoStar Group.

1 comment:

  1. Commercial office is space is not rented based on the actual square footage your company gets. Every renter in the building must also lease a portion of the building's noncommercial common space, lobbies, etc. This is why you have to pay for 30,000 sq feet even if only 25,000 sq feet is exclusively your company's space.

    A moment's research would have revealed this.