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Beijing Vantone Real Estate Co., Ltd. Chairman Lun Feng and World Trade Center developer Larry A. Silverstein today announced that a preliminary agreement has been reached to create the China Center – a business and cultural facility representing China’s dynamic business community – within the nearly completed 7 World Trade Center in downtown Manhattan.
As part of a term sheet signed today, Beijing Vantone, one of China’s largest private real estate developers, has agreed to the basic terms of a lease for at least 200,000 square feet of office space on the top five floors of 7 World Trade Center – the 48th through the 52nd floor – which would then serve as a hub for Chinese companies locating offices in New York and for international and U.S. firms interested in investing in China. The term sheet, while nonbinding, indicates that both parties have agreed in principle to the major parameters of the lease.
The innovative and pioneering concept of the China Center as an anchor of the new World Trade Center was conceived by Beijing Vantone, with support from the combined efforts of New York City and State government and the Partnership for New York City, a nonprofit coalition of the city’s leading businesses.
“We are pleased to be building a bridge between the Chinese and U.S. business and cultural communities. There is no better place to enter a future together than from Lower Manhattan,” said Chairman Feng. “The China Center will be both a business and cultural destination, providing a platform to nurture mutually beneficial dialogue.”
Governor George Pataki, Empire State Development Corporation Chairman Charles Gargano, Deputy Mayor for Economic Development & Rebuilding Daniel L. Doctoroff, New York City Economic Development Corporation President Andrew M. Alper and leaders of the Partnership have all visited Beijing in a successful effort to foster stronger economic ties and demonstrate New York’s commitment to establishing a Chinese business hub in Lower Manhattan.
“I am pleased that Beijing Vantone is taking this critical step forward towards making a significant investment as an anchor tenant at the World Trade Center site. It represents a significant demonstration of confidence in downtown’s rebuilding and again reinforces Lower Manhattan’s position as the financial capital of the world,” said Governor George E. Pataki. “When I traveled to China last year and met with Beijing Vantone, government officials and business leaders about the China Center project, it was immediately apparent that Lower Manhattan’s stature as the center of world finance made it ideally suited for Beijing Vantone’s vision of a central location for Chinese business interests. The China Center at 7 WTC would help firmly establish the World Trade Center site as a preferred U.S. headquarters for hundreds of international companies that are emerging from Asia and elsewhere – bringing thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in commercial activity back to a World Trade Center site.”
“Beijing Vantone’s decision to establish its global headquarters for the China Center in New York City and bring 800 jobs to Lower Manhattan is a powerful example of the world’s growing confidence in the revitalization of the downtown business community,” said Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. “This agreement clearly indicates the growing importance of our relationship with China and illustrates New York City’s role as the business capital of the world. EDC President Alper initiated discussions with Beijing Vantone in June 2004, and both he and Deputy Mayor Doctoroff have visited Beijing three times in the last few years, and I am proud their aggressive effort to attract new businesses to New York has paid off. I want to thank Governor Pataki and Silverstein Properties for our strong partnership in restoring Lower Manhattan and rebuilding the World Trade Center site.”
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said, “For more than four years I have fought tirelessly to restore Lower Manhattan to its rightful place as the worldwide financial and business capital of the world. Despite some redevelopment setbacks and missed opportunities we have had to endure, it is my hope that with this announcement we can continue to move forward and fulfill the promises made to my community in the wake of September 11. We will, assuredly, rebuild and return Lower Manhattan to the vibrant, exciting community it was and will be again.”
Governor Pataki’s Chief of Staff John P. Cahill said, “By signing a term sheet for such a considerable amount of space in 7 World Trade Center, Vantone is sending a message to the world that the rebuilding of Lower Manhattan is on track.”
“This agreement marks another critical milestone in the recovery of Lower Manhattan and will bring an important new company to the country’s third-largest business district,” said Deputy Mayor for Economic Development and Rebuilding Daniel L. Doctoroff. “I am proud that with our State partners we provided $475 million in Liberty Bonds toward the construction of 7 World Trade Center, and I congratulate Larry Silverstein for securing such an important new tenant. Since EDC President Alper introduced the international business desk in 2003, this group has been extraordinarily proactive and met with more than 500 companies in 26 international cities in the effort to attract foreign companies to New York City.”
Added Mr. Silverstein, “Downtown is emerging as one of the world’s most dynamic and diverse mixed use neighborhoods, and a Chinese business and cultural hub would help accelerate this exciting transformation. I thank the Governor, the Mayor and the Partnership for their determined efforts. I also want to acknowledge the special role played by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver who, in cooperation with the State and the City, has put in place a package of legislative programs that has made downtown an even more compelling location for first class tenants.”
The New York City Investment Fund, the economic development arm of the Partnership, has committed up to $3 million in funding to support the China Center. The Partnership and the Fund have worked closely with the City and the State to strengthen New York-Chinese business relationships and to encourage Chinese companies to locate their international headquarters in New York City.
Said Henry R. Kravis, Founding Chairman of the New York City Investment Fund, “The China Center is a great example of what can be accomplished through public-private collaboration, both here at home and reaching across the world to the government and business leadership of China. Our Fund, which is dedicated to creating jobs and economic development in New York City, looks forward to helping Beijing Vantone create the Western hub of Chinese business as part of the rebuilding of Lower Manhattan.”
Following an initial meeting between the EDC and Beijing Vantone in June 2004, EDC and the Partnership organized meetings in Beijing between the Vantone Group and New York City business leaders and government officials to encourage Chinese support for the project. A delegation of 20 New York City-based CEOs, led by Citigroup Chairman & CEO Charles Prince, who co-chairs the Partnership, and Time Warner CEO Richard Parsons, a former Chairman of the Partnership, participated in this May 2005 visit. Mr. Silverstein traveled to China at that same time to participate in these discussions with Beijing Vantone. This was followed by a September 2005 trip to Beijing by Governor Pataki where he met with representatives from Beijing Vantone, government officials and business leaders about the China Center project. “There could not be a more promising harbinger of success for the new office complex planned for the World Trade Center than securing the China Center as the first major tenant,” stated Partnership President & CEO Kathryn Wylde. “China represents the most important source of new customers and clients for Wall Street and many other New York-based international companies. The China Center could help ensure Lower Manhattan's future as the center of international finance.”
Beijing Vantone is represented by Peter Riguardi, President of Jones Lang LaSalle's New York region, assisted by John Ryan and Paul Mas, both Executive Vice Presidents with the firm's New York office. Xue Ya and Andrew Swain are Vantone's representatives in New York leading the project development of the China Center.
Josef Mittleman, Chief Operating Officer for Silverstein Properties and Cathy Giliberti of Silverstein Properties are overseeing the negotiation for the ownership. The agency leasing team from CB Richard Ellis for 7 World Trade Center is led by Mary Ann Tighe, Chief Executive Officer of the firm's New York Tri-State Region, Stephen B. Siegel, Chairman, Global Brokerage, and Simon Wasserberger, First Vice President.