In a move that bodes well for the rebirth of the World Trade Center area in New York City's financial district, Moody's Investors Service is rumored to be close to inking a deal to be the first major tenant in Larry Silverstein's newly opened Seven World Trade Center, which is the first building from the complex to be rebuilt since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Sources at Moody's said a possible deal involving 12 floors and more than 500,000 square feet of space is in the works. A Moody's spokesperson said the firm is considering several options for expansion, including Seven WTC, but has not signed with any property owner as of yet. The firm is using real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield in its search for space. Cushman & Wakefield declined to comment on the negotiations, as did Silverstein Properties.

Moody's has grown to nearly 3,000 employees across 22 countries in recent years. It owns 99 Church Street, its worldwide headquarters, which is not far from the WTC. But the rating agency has long since hit the wall (so to speak) at that location, leading to years of jokes about housing analysts in the basement, sources said. It appears finally ready to commit some of the $1.7 billion in revenues it collected in 2005 to secure alternative space.

The 52-story Seven WTC, a glass tower designed by David Childs, who also designed the as-yet-unbuilt Freedom Tower, opened for business on May 23 with much fanfare, including a concert featuring Suzanne Vega and Lou Reed. So far, however, it is sparsely occupied; only eight floors have been leased, according to a Silverstein spokesperson. But if Moody's signs on the dotted line, it would be the first real anchor tenant of the building, which is just down the road from the new headquarters Goldman Sachs is constructing along Vesey Street in Battery Park City. That 43-story office tower is slated to open in 2009.

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