West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933
Volume 77, Number 18 | October 3 - 9, 2007

Extra! Extra! Media firms move to Hudson Square

New and incoming tenants including WNYC Public Radio, New York magazine, Viacom, CBS Radio, and movie mogul Harvey Weinstein’s company have recently taken office space in Hudson Square, joining Community Media L.L.C., publishers of Downtown Express, The Villager, Chelsea Now, Gay City News and Thrive NYC.

Some have found that Hudson Square offers welcome relief from higher-priced space in Midtown, for example, while others have been able to consolidate their operations over fewer floors instead of stacking them in high-rises.

WNYC Radio, which has seen its listernership jump by 32 percent from 2002, last year inked a deal to move from eight floors in the Municipal Building near City Hall to two-and-a-half floors at 160 Varick St.

The public radio station’s new digs, which it expects to move into in spring, will now feature a ground floor and the addition of over 20,000 square feet of space. This increase from approximately 51,400 square feet to 71,9000 at the Varick St. location will allow the company to double the size of its newsroom, add a performance space, accommodate a new morning show and possibly create a brand-new midday program, said WNYC president Laura Walker.

“We fell in love with the building and the neighborhood the minute we saw it,” said Walker, who has been at the station’s helm for a decade and said she looked at over 60 sites in multiple boroughs before settling on Hudson Square. “It was obvious that this was where we should be.”

WNYC agreed to a 20-year lease with owner Trinity Real Estate, with the option of a 10-year renewal, marking the station’s first independent tenancy since splitting from the city in 1997.

The company ultimately decided to stay Downtown because of its connection to the Lower Manhattan community, especially after 9/11, Walker noted. And its autonomy from the city, though official for a decade, can now be fully realized with WNYC’s physical move out of the Municipal Building, she added.

“Frankly, as an independent media organization in the city, not owned by the city, we want to put our roots down in a community,” Walker said. “We’re in our own space, and we’re in a neighborhood that also is a creative, vibrant neighborhood where a lot of other creative institutions are. We loved the fact that there were other media organizations there.”

Walker also expressed delight over the building’s history as a printing press, which ties WNYC directly to the city’s media past. But this time around, the space’s “airy” offerings will afford the station the opportunity to expand its Internet and video operations, while also providing enough room to preserve its own 82 years’ worth of archives.

As well, WNYC also plans to install a news ticker on its ground floor to beam out over the Hudson Square streetscape.

“We hope to be broadcasting to the world from Hudson Square,” Walker said. “We’ll be ambassadors; it’s really exciting.”

Another major media player, New York Media Holdings, which publishes New York magazine, also recently joined the party.

In late August, the publisher relocated its 280 employees from five floors in Midtown to sublease a single floor at One Hudson Square, said company spokesperson Serena Torrey. The move, which came after the company’s 10-year lease expired at 444 Madison Ave., provides for an increase of nearly 20,000 square feet of space in the neighborhood, Torrey added.

“There aren’t many buildings in New York City that can accommodate those sorts of needs,” she said of the 77,000-square-foot, Trinity-owned space. “We wanted to be on one floor and jumped at the chance to look at this space.”

Torrey also noted the area’s “wonderful” restaurant offerings as conducive to business-deal meals, but said the area is still lacking quicker eating options.

Overall, though, she said the new location makes for an easier commute for many of the company’s employees and provides a lot more open space in the neighborhood.

“As magazine that’s about the entire city, we as a company have things we like about the neighborhood,” Torrey said. “People really like the energy around this neighborhood.”

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