Law firm Cadwalader, Wickersham and Taft LLP has agreed in principle to sign a 20-year lease for 450,000 sq. ft. of office space at lower Manhattan’s 1 World Financial Center. It would be the largest office lease signed in lower Manhattan since the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

While specific lease terms were not disclosed, brokers report that space at 1 World Financial Center is leasing for $35 to $40 per sq. ft. The building is owned and managed by Brookfield Properties Corp. Cadwalader will join other 1 World Financial center tenants such as Merrill Lynch, American Express and DeutscheBank who are already in the building.

"New York’s financial district is the premier financial center in the world. It was logical to stay where the action is, has been and will continue to be for years to come," says Robert Link, chairman of Cadwalader.

Earlier this year, Cadwalader put its 100 Maiden Lane headquarters on the market, citing space constraints as the reason. With their new 450,000 sq. ft. lease in the World Financial Center, the firm has plenty of room to expand, according to the company.

"Cadwalader’s determination to stay in Lower Manhattan sends a strong signal to the entire New York City business community that downtown’s recovery is well underway," says Michael Bloomberg, mayor of New York City.

The law firm is expected to move into the space early in 2005. Fourteen floors of the building will be renovated in advance of the move. Cadwalader will absorb the estimated $75 million cost.