Glossy magazine empire Condé Nast is looking to move its headquarters out of the World Trade Center — a surprise shift that insiders say could spur a knockdown, drag-out battle with its landlords.
The publisher of Vogue, Vanity Fair and The New Yorker — which only finished moving into digs that span 21 floors at One World Trade Center in 2014 — is scouting out Midtown for a potential new home, sources told The Post.
Late Tuesday, Condé Nast’s parent company Advance Publications confirmed to The Post that it is “in discussions about bringing the lease at One World Trade Center into line with current market conditions and its ongoing needs at this location.”
Accordingly, the publisher said it “is considering alternative locations to address these requirements.”
The problem: The lease at One World Trade Center, signed in 2011 with rent payments starting in 2014, runs until 2039. The Port Authority, which owns 90 percent of the 1,776-foot-tall spire, has been stung by coronavirus-related revenue losses and can’t afford to give away the store.
Insiders add that Douglas Durst’s company, the minority managing partner, projects a cheerful public face but turns street fighter when the chips are down — as in its recent bare-knuckles battle with Amazon over an aborted deal on West 34th Street for a much smaller space than Condé has downtown.
Neither the PA nor Durst is in any mood to let the embattled media company just pick up its glossy titles and leave, according to sources.
“They’re going to dig in like hell,” predicted a real estate insider who’s not involved with either the media company or the WTC.
“They gave Condé Nast the moon to move there. Now, six years later, Condé says, ‘Well, we can’t afford it any more and Anna [Wintour] doesn’t like it any more, so we’re out of there?’ ” the executive snorted.
Reps for both the PA and Durst issued icy “no comments.” Condé Nast’s real-estate brokers at JLL wouldn’t talk either.
Condé Nast’s owners, the Newhouse family, were hailed as heroes in 2011 for deciding to move the glamorous company to struggling downtown.
Even so, the Conde lease was widely criticized as a “sweetheart” deal using public money to restore confidence in lower Manhattan and the World Trade Center after the exit of companies after 9/11. Its starting rent at One World Trade of $60 a square foot was the same it paid at its previous home, Durst’s Four Times Square — a 1999 building that was advanced for its time but not in the same class as iconic One World Trade.
To coax Condé downtown, the PA agreed to reimburse Durst for the full remaining $200 million cost of its 800,000-square-foot Times Square lease until its 2019 expiration. It also promised Condé $46 million in tax rebates over the WTC lease term among other goodies.
Despite the advantages, Condé began unloading some of its 1.2 million square feet at One World Trade in 2019. It tapped JLL to sublease 350,000 square feet, including nearly 100,000 square feet for which it quickly signed subtenants.
Apparently that wasn’t enough for money-losing Condé, which shut several magazines before the pandemic and has furloughed and laid off hundreds of employees since.