Grand Central – Manhattan’s Overlooked Business District?

05 November, 2019 / Alan Rosinsky
Grand Central Terminal, a bustling business district in New York City.

Sandwiched between the glamorous neighborhoods of New York City lies a dynamic business district. You might have heard of it— Grand Central. Its narrative is rich, woven through time with resilience and innovation. However, paradoxically, this timeless neighborhood often sits in the shadows, somewhat overlooked. Nevertheless, we’re on a mission to adjust that perspective and uncover this business district’s hidden appeal.

The Beating Heart of New York City: Grand Central

When discussing New York City, we often overlook Grand Central – an enduring symbol of resilience and revival. Wedged between the high-end Plaza District to the north and the chic southern districts of Chelsea, Flatiron, and NoMad, Grand Central has carved out a distinct identity.

The Birth of a Monument

Grand Central didn’t just emerge; it was meticulously crafted. Its cornerstone, the iconic Grand Central Station, was completed in 1913 after a decade-long build, costing a hefty $2 billion in today’s money. Thus, this colossal construction project birthed an energetic neighborhood pulsating with life, growth, and promise.

The Skyline Begins to Change

Soon, impressive structures like The Chanin Building, The Lincoln Building, The Chrysler Building, and The Graybar Building began to sprout around Grand Central. Interestingly, each had a direct passage to the station’s main concourse, which instilled this district as the city’s vibrant artery.

A Transformative Transportation Node

More than just a station, Grand Central has always been a vital transportation hub and lifeline for both residents and workers. Its role has only been magnified with the recent addition of the new Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) terminal. This state-of-the-art terminal has not only amplified the station’s connectivity, but has also significantly eased commuting for Long Island residents.

The integration of the LIRR terminal into Grand Central’s complex creates an improved, more seamless travel experience for commuters. It provides faster and more direct access to Midtown, significantly reducing the travel time and contributing to a more efficient transit system overall.

Furthermore, this expansion has revitalized the neighborhood as a bustling business district, shifting focus from Lower Manhattan to Midtown.

The Rise of an Office Haven

Until a decade ago, Grand Central was the darling of all office-based firms. Its mass transit system and abundance of Class A office space made it more than just an attractive proposition. It was the center of gravity for businesses in the city, where opportunities converged, and connections sparked. Grand Central was more than just a district; it was the beating heart of New York City.

A Coveted Destination for Office Tenants: The Grand Central District

Grand Central isn’t just a neighborhood or a transit hub. It’s one of the largest office submarkets in all of Manhattan. With over 43 million square feet of office space spread across 171 buildings, it’s an enticing option for businesses of all sizes.

A Hub of Class A Office Space

Grand Central houses an impressive 72 Class A office buildings. This concentration of premium workspace is a magnet for firms seeking the best. However, this district caters to smaller businesses too. Offices ranging from 1,500 to 5,000 square feet are readily available, often at rates that give other Midtown districts a run for their money.

Home to Renowned Tenants

Some of the most recognized names in business call Grand Central home. Wells Fargo and Aetna call 100 Park Avenue home. Then, there’s Capital One which has 90 Park Avenue as its base. Moreover, Oracle, Morgan Stanley Smith, and Federal Home Loan Bank reside at 101 Park Avenue. These aren’t random choices and reflect the district’s appeal as a business hub.

Exceptional Amenities for Businesses

The magnetism of Grand Central isn’t just about location or space. The district is renowned for its high-end amenities. Buildings tailor every detail to enhance the commercial appeal, from 24/7-attended lobbies and robust security measures to in-house conference facilities and efficient building mechanical systems. Moreover, the neighborhood makes it easy for businesses to thrive while offering a desirable New York City address. Thus, it’s not just an office location; it’s a coveted destination for office tenants.

An Alternative to Hudson Yards/Manhattan West

In recent years, Manhattan has seen a mass migration of tenants. The $25 billion Hudson Yards project has become a magnet for tenants with its shiny skyscrapers and appealing loft-style spaces. However, Grand Central still stands firm, offering a different appeal.  

The Response to Market Shifts

Tenant migration has been a challenge for the Grand Central district. Indeed, many have been seduced by the new offerings of Hudson Yards. However, demonstrating resilience, Grand Central continues to adapt and innovate, actively meeting the evolving needs of today’s professionals.

The Grand Central Advantage

Landlords in the neighborhood have tapped into the desire for a blend of heritage and modernity. They’ve transformed their spaces, adopting an industrial chic aesthetic and open-plan offices in line with current preferences.

A Financially Attractive Proposition

Grand Central isn’t just about aesthetic appeal. It’s a financially sound option. Notably, since 2010, it has registered the smallest percentage growth in asking rents in Midtown. Furthermore, as of Q2 2019, the average rent for Class A office space was $76 per square foot, significantly less than the Hudson Yards’ $96 per square foot.

An Array of Choices

Beyond its financial advantages, Grand Central presents a broad assortment of property choices. Possessing a comprehensive inventory that encompasses Class A and Class B assets, it caters to a diverse range of businesses. So, whether you’re a budding startup hunting for a cost-efficient foothold, or an established enterprise on the lookout for a high-grade establishment, Grand Central’s versatile portfolio accommodates every budget and business need.

The Key Takeaway

There’s an under-appreciated quality to the Grand Central district. Amid the skyscrapers of Hudson Yards and the activity of Lower Manhattan, it stands its ground—robust, resilient, and relentlessly adapting. Moreover, it offers an enticing blend of aesthetic appeal, financial feasibility, and rich diversity, standing tall as an attractive destination for office tenants. As New York City continues to evolve, this historic district remains firmly rooted as a viable business district.

Learn more about the benefits of renting office space in Grand Central, explained by Metro Manhattan Principal Broker Alan Rosinsky:

We can help you find a suitable office space in a prime Grand Central location. Contact Metro Manhattan Office Space at (212) 444-2241 for more information.


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