Advertising Agency to Anchor Renovated, LEED-Hopeful 3 Columbus Circle

After 85 years, in a deal that reminds us that the days of Mad Men are long gone, the advertising agency Y&R (which was known as Young & Rubicam when it was founded in 1926) has agreed to move its offices from 285 Madison Avenue to SL Green and the Moinian Group’s renovated 3 Columbus Circle. Y&R – which is part of the Young & Rubicam Group division of WPP (the London-based global media communications services company) – will be relocating in the middle of 2013 along with a number of other WPP entities that are also currently housed at 285 Madison: Blast Radius, BrandBuzz, Bravo, Kang & Lee, the KBM Group, VML, Wunderman and ZAAZ.

In total, the Y&R entities will take nearly 340,000 square feet at the 770,000-square-foot, 26-story tower, which is located at 1775 Broadway between West 57th and 58th Streets. Y&R will receive a 214,000-square-foot condominium interest in the tower’s 3rd through 8th floors, and has signed a 20-year lease for 125,000 square feet on the 9th, 10th, 18th, and 19th floors. The deal also gives Y&R the ability to place its branding on the exterior of the building. Other terms of the lease were not disclosed.

Originally designed by Shreve, Lamb and Harmon Associates in 1927, 3 Columbus Circle underwent a $90 million, Gensler-designed renovation beginning in 2008. The project is seeking a LEED Silver rating from USGBC and involved a new, high-performance curtain wall system comprised of low-e glazing within extruded aluminum framing. The new windows should both boost overall energy efficiency and provide clear views to the exterior. And each setback features clear glass handrails, similarly to preserve views. The retail storefronts feature oversized floor-to-ceiling windows and the building’s lobby and elevator cabs are also new.

Of course, Moinian’s new curtain wall has robbed the tower of much of its historical charm. But 3 Columbus Circle’s history is similar to the Hearst Tower’s just to the south on 8th Avenue: it was originally a 3-story building whose structure and foundation were designed to support an office tower at some point in the future. (Unlike the Hearst Tower, which stalled at its podium for 8 decades, that office tower was built just a few years later.)

WPP actually owns the 26-story 285 Madison, which it intends to sell after the Y&R entities depart. Y&R itself has been located at 285 Madison for the past 85 years. The move was dictated by the demands of business in the 21st century: 285 Madison “is not a suitable building for us and probably hasn’t been for a number of years,” Y&R’s CEO David Sable told the New York Times. “The building was built as a warren of small offices,” Mr. Sable said, “and over the years, it’s always been a problem for us. And it’s a wedding cake. As you move up, the floors get smaller and smaller. ”

The deal is vindication of sorts for Moinian: earlier this year, the company fought off an attempt by Related to take control of the tower by foreclosing on a mortgage which it had purchased. Moinian, which acquired 3 Columbus Circle in 2004, saw the market for commercial tenants dry up during the 2008 credit crisis and received nearly $140 million in equity financing from SL Green in the fall of 2010. Related was rumored to be interested in tearing the building down and building a retail tower anchored by the first full-sized Nordstrom department store in Manhattan.

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