Law firms switch headquarters along popular Midtown corridor

Steve Cuozzo

realty check

Another major law firm lease just got signed on midtown Sixth Avenue that’s good news for Vornado Realty Trust and a rare, narrow ray of light for the embattled Trump Organization.

National law firm King & Spalding, a tenant at SL Green’s 1185 Sixth Ave. at West 47th Street for two decades, is moving six blocks north to 1290 Sixth, Realty Check has learned.

Vornado is the majority owner and operator of the 2.1 million square-foot tower. Trump holds a 30% passive stake under a complicated 2007 deal with Vornado chief Steven Roth that also involved a San Francisco office building.

The 175,000 square-foot King & Spalding lease, reported by sources, follows last week’s Sixth Avenue news that Paul, Weiss signed a mega-deal to move and expand into 765,000 square feet at Fisher Brothers’ 1345 Sixth, leaving behind 550,000 sf at RXR Realty’s 1285 Sixth.

King & Spalding has been at 1185 Sixth for about 20 years. Its move to 1290 in 2025 will be a small expansion from the firm’s 169,000 sf at 1185 (it originally had  236,000 sf there but subleased some of it years ago).

Law firm King & Spalding will move to 1290 Sixth Ave. after spending about two decades at 185 Sixth Ave. J. Scott Wynn

Press-shy Vornado wouldn’t confirm or comment on the new lease. But we’ve learned that the law firm will take floors 13 through 15 at 1290 Sixth, where the asking rent was $105 per square foot.

SL Green declined to comment.

The tower is undergoing upgrades including a renovated lobby, triple-height glass curtain wall, infrastructure upgrades and “wellness” amenities.

The lease leaves only about 200,000 square feet available at 1290. Neuberger Berman is the largest tenant with 400,000 square feet.

The legal leases on Sixth Avenue in the final days of 2023 cheered the commercial market after a mostly miserable year.

“Law firms love the neighborhood,” CBRE’s Howard Fiddle, part of Fisher’s leasing team, said of the thriving Sixth Avenue corridor that’s also home to New York Post parent News Corp. and sister company Fox.

We forecast that Paul, Weiss was headed for 1345 a few months ago but underestimated the lease’s size, which is a substantial expansion for the firm. Fiddle said the deal also includes future expansion options.

“The timing worked well,” Fiddle said, as Alliance Bernstein’s lease at 1345 was expiring. He said Paul, Weiss will get control of the space in 2025 and move in by 2027.

He attributed the law firm’s decision in part to the tower’s recently completed $120 million capital upgrades, which include a redesigned lobby and outdoor public plaza, an amenities floor, tenants’ lounge and  a wellness center.

In a statement, Paul, Weiss chairman Brad S. Karp also cited the tower’s “high-tech features, thoughtful meeting spaces and artistic elements.”

“It’s a 100% flight to quality,” Fiddle said, which proves “a building doesn’t have to be brand new” to draw top-tier tenants. Fisher owns 1345 Sixth with JPMorgan.

Legal powerhouse Paul, Weiss signed a mega-deal to move and expand into 765,000 square feet at Fisher Brothers’ 1345 Sixth, leaving behind 550,000 sf at RXR Realty’s 1285 Sixth. Fisher Brothers

RXR Realty chairman/CEO Scott Rechler said of the impending Paul, Weiss exit,  “Unfortunately, 1285 ultimately didn’t have the space available to accommodate their expansion  needs.”

Rechler said, “When Paul, Weiss leaves, they’ll have been a tenant for four decades, a testament to the quality of our relationship and the quality of the building.”

He said, “We already have term sheets out on the majority of their space.”

Rechler called the Paul, Weiss expansion move “another positive sign for the market of well-located, Class-A office buildings in midtown.”

The Trump Organization, meanwhile, is pressured on multiple fronts. A $160 million loan on 40 Wall St., its most valuable commercial property, is in special servicing, and the judge in ex-president Donald Trump’s fraud trial is trying to strip him of all his New York properties.

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