Companies Get Back in the Real Estate Hunt

Here's one sign that the economics of New York City companies are improving: they want to upgrade their addresses.

Many companies seized opportunities to relocate to better office buildings and more prestigious addresses in Manhattan in 2010 than they did in the previous year, according to commercial brokers.

"Tenants went from being questionable as to where things were going to saying, 'Now may be a great opportunity to lock in,'" said Ken Meyerson of CB Richard Ellis.

Of the top 20 leasing deals his company was involved in, 12 companies moved and signed new leases while the remaining eight renewed their leases, Meyerson said. In 2009, only two companies moved, even though Manhattan office rents had already fallen 35 percent from peak prices.

Industry analysts also said companies signed longer-term leases last year, when Manhattan office rents appeared to be stabilizing. Asking rents in Manhattan, according to CB Richard Ellis, dropped 1.4 percent from December 2009 to December last year.

The largest leasing deal of 2010 was signed by Société Générale. The French bank will move from 1221 Avenue of the Americas to 245 Park Avenue -- a space that was formerly home to Bear Stearns -- in the Fall of 2013. The company signed a 20-year lease for 444,000-square feet.