HSBC Close to Joining Silverstein at LEED Gold 7 World Trade Center

Last June, HSBC announced a five-year, $100 million partnership to address global climate change, agreeing to work with The Climate Group, Earthwatch Institute, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, and the World Wildlife Fund in order to quantify the impact of climate change on the world’s cities, forests, and rivers through extensive field research. Yesterday, sources told that the bank is close to continuing its sustainable efforts by leasing 300,000 square feet across seven of the final ten floors available at Larry Silverstein’s LEED Gold 7 World Trade Center. Should the deal close, HSBC would likely sell its 500,000-square-foot headquarters tower at 452 Fifth Avenue in Midtown. Asking rents for the final ten floors at 7 WTC are hovering between $75 and $85 per square foot, and HSBC’s deal is rumored to be “at term sheet at the moment.”

In connection with the partnership, HSBC plans to educate its 300,000 employees on sustainable principles, designating approximately 3,000 as “climate champions” who will disseminate knowledge and acquired field experience to their local communities; the donation by HSBC is the largest ever by a British company. As gbNYC has noted previously, other tenants at 7 World Trade Center include law firm Darby & Darby, Moody’s, Scout Real Estate Capital, and Ameriprise Financial.

HSBC’s relocation would be a major coup for Downtown commercial real estate, copping a high-profile bank tenant for a green project that struggled, at least initially, to attract sufficient interest. Notwithstanding the downturn, I suspect that we’ll see an increasing number of corporate tenants beginning to actively look for LEED-certified commercial space in New York City in order to synergize their sustainable efforts across other facets of their business. For example, NBC, which has actively promoted its own green programming initiatives, continues to seek Manhattan office space, with either 7 World Trade Center of LEED Silver hopeful 11 Times Square a likely destination, while Al Gore’s sustainable Generation Investment Management has already inked space at Bank of America Tower.

We track leasing activity at Gotham’s green office towers in order to draw some anecdotal conclusions about what LEED might mean to local commercial tenants. While I’m convinced that location is still the primary driver behind commercial real estate decisions, it’s clear that tenants who are dedicated to sustainable business practices are indeed placing some sort of premium on LEED buildings.

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