Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. and Fox Corp. have signed 20-year renewals of their leases in their longtime shared headquarters in New York at 1211 Avenue of the Americas.
The updated agreements with Ivanhoé Cambridge, a real estate subsidiary of a Québec investment firm, span 1.2 million square feet of office space. Together, they represent the largest commercial lease deal of 2022 as well as the biggest in Manhattan since 2019. Along with the interior space, the renewals call for renovations of the plaza and outdoor spaces where Fox Sports and Fox News have hosted broadcasts. There will also be a new tenant lobby on 47th Street. Renovation work is due to start later this year.
In a time of deep uncertainty about the state of office life in general across the U.S., the renewals offer hope for a number of stakeholders, including New York City officials, commercial landlords and local businesses. Companies have had to implement waves of changes to their office strategies since Covid started sweeping across the country nearly three years ago. Commercial occupancy rates in Manhattan are still low, with many employees opting to work remotely and the future of Midtown’s famously dense forest of skyscrapers is the subject of regular debate among policy wonks as well as average New Yorkers.
Particularly in the media business, the string of postwar towers from 42nd to 57th streets on Sixth Avenue (as the Avenue of the Americas was known before 1945) has long had an outsized symbolic importance. NBCUniversal’s home at 30 Rockefeller Plaza remains intact, but the street was also once home to companies like CBS, Time-Life and McGraw-Hill. Today, it is still known for its many office towers as well as landmarks like Radio City Music Hall and Carnegie Hall. Helped by its proximity to transit hubs, it has fared better than other neighborhoods during the Covid era despite a relative lack of the kinds of ultra-modern corporate sites found in Hudson Yards or downtown. The Murdoch-dominated building 1211 opened in 1973, the same year as the original twin towers of the World Trade Center, and bears all of the geometric design hallmarks of that era.
The office leases now run through 2042, and carry further extension options. Fox has almost 670,000 square feet and its lease extension takes effect in December 2025. News Corp.’s lease for 486,000 square feet gets extended at the end of 2027.
Overall Midtown total leasing exceeded 21 million square feet in 2022, Ivanhoé Cambridge noted, which is on par with the historical 20-year average of 21.2 million square feet. The company said the level of activity demonstrates “the resilience of the Midtown office leasing market in a post-pandemic world.”
Jonathan Pearce, EVP, Leasing & Development North America at Ivanhoé Cambridge said Fox and News Corp. have placed a “clear vote of confidence in 1211 and Midtown Manhattan” with the reup. The renewal “also underscores the importance that these leading companies place on having a dynamic workplace that supports its business activities, as well as the attraction and retention of key talent, and to offer a leading experience to its viewers, customers, guests, and employees.”