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One World Trade Center lands lease with Conde Nast

The new One World Trade Center building is under construction next to the site of the September 11 World Trade Center attacks in New York, May 10, 2011. REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine
The new One World Trade Center building is under construction next to the site of the September 11 World Trade Center attacks in New York, May 10, 2011. REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Media company Conde Nast on Wednesday signed a lease for about one-third of the One World Trade Center office tower, giving Lower Manhattan a touch of class while strengthening the project's finances.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the World Trade Center site and several bridges and tunnels in the area, also set its sights on another milestone: replacing the 1928 Goethals Bridge, which links New Jersey and Staten Island.

A new bridge is expected to cost about $1 billion and the Port Authority said it is formally issuing a Request for Proposals "for a contract to design, build, finance and maintain a new Goethals Bridge."

The new lease with Conde Nast is estimated at $2 billion over 25 years. The deal will bring the publisher of Vogue, Architectural Digest, Vanity Fair and other glossy magazines to Ground Zero, which Mayor Michael Bloomberg calls the world's most complicated construction site.

Three other skyscrapers are also being built on the 16-acre (6.5 hectare) site owned by the Port Authority where the twin towers stood until September 11, 2001. A transit hub, a memorial, a museum and a theater are also in the works.

Conde Nast, which helped transform Times Square into a tourist magnet when it relocated there from Madison Avenue in 1999, will lease about one million square feet of space at the $3 billion One World Trade Center.

"Conde Nast has always been something of a trendsetter, and its move is sure to attract others to the area, further strengthening and diversifying the Lower Manhattan economy," Bloomberg said in a statement.

One World Trade Center, called the Freedom Tower until that name proved too hard to market, will stand 1,776-feet when it is finished in 2013, making it the nation's tallest building.

S. I. Newhouse, Jr., Conde Nast chairman, said, "Conde Nast has a long history in New York and has thrived in part due to the city's indefatigable energy, power and vitality."

The tower now stands 66 stories high and about 1.8 million square feet of space still must be leased.

The Port Authority said the Durst Organization on Wednesday sealed a deal for a $100 million equity investment in One World Trade Center and will handle leasing and property management.

To help pay for One World Trade Center and other projects at the site, the Port Authority said its board approved $1 billion of taxable debt and "certain administerial changes pertaining to debt issued for the (World Trade Center)."

A spokesman was not available to offer more details.

The agency's financial staff had asked the board to amend debt resolutions for some World Trade Center bonds by removing a $500 million limit per series and a maximum term of 35 years, according to a web cast meeting. This series of consolidated bonds totals $4.5 billion.

Saying the current resolutions had raised concerns among investors, a Port Authority staffer said: "Removing this limitation would only apply to the consolidate bonds issued for World Trade Center projects and will enable the Port Authority to achieve greater transactional efficiencies and support the capital (financing) for these projects."

(Reporting by Joan Gralla; Editing by Diane Craft)