Will Mort Zuckerman Move the New York Daily News Downtown?

Freedom Tower site Lower ManhattanThe employees of Condé Nast, the glossy magazine publisher, may not be relishing the prospect of a corporate move to downtown Manhattan, but at least they should have some company down there. Mort Zuckerman, the owner of the New York Daily News, is also in early discussions about moving his publishing operations to the southern end of the island, away from the media industry's midtown power base.

"We're undecided," says Jeff Zomper, the paper's senior vice president of human resources, who's also in charge of the real estate search. "It's possible we could do a renewal on our current space, or there's a chance we could end up downtown. We've flipped back and forth on this about six times."

Currently, the News resides on 33rd Street west of Ninth Avenue, in a building it shares with the Associated Press. But those offices, unlike the ones in Condé Nast's gleaming Times Square tower, are decidedly run down -- "disgusting," in the view of one occupant. They also may be roomier than the paper needs once it completes a round of downsizing initiated earlier this month with buyout offers sent to every employee.

On the Road Again?

On the other hand, that space might not prove roomy enough should Zuckerman end up buying Newsweek, as he's reportedly considering doing, and merging it with U.S. News & World Report. If that were to happen and Zuckerman were to move the combined operation downtown, it would be the third shift in a short time for the staff of Newsweek, who relocated from Columbus Circle to Tribeca last year, only to be told they were moving back uptown a few months later.

Zomper wouldn't say where the downtown space the Daily News is considering is located, but he did confirm that the paper earlier took a look at the offices in the World Financial Center previously occupied by The Wall Street Journal, which joined the rest of News Corp. in midtown last summer. "We had some conversations with them, but we have some rather unique infrastructure needs they weren't able to meet," he says.

Condé Nast has also looked into the possibility of leasing space in the World Financial Center, according to the New York Observer, but is said to favor the idea of becoming a charter tenant in the newly built One World Trade Center, aka the Freedom Tower (construction site pictured), in part to take advantage of government incentives designed to lure business back down there in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks.

As it happens, Zuckerman, whose primary business is real estate, is among the contenders to buy a stake in One World Trade Center from the Port Authority and become its developer. If he prevails, might that become the Daily News's new home? Zomper declined to comment further.
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