JPMorgan To Demolish Park Avenue HQ, Build New 70-Story Global Headquarters For 15,000

JPMorgan Chase, America's largest bank, announced plans on Wednesday to demolish its existing headquarters in midtown Manhattan on Park Avenue between 47th and 48th Streets and build a new 70-story world headquarters on the site, that would consolidate other offices into a new office building for 15,000 employees on Park Avenue.

The 2.5 million-square-foot (232,000-square-meter) building would be the first skyscraper to go up under new zoning rules for the area surrounding Grand Central Terminal, which were designed to encourage the development of taller, more modern skyscrapers and ensure that Midtown remains one of the city’s premier business districts.

The new tower will soar as much as 500 feet higher than the existing 52-story headquarters on the west side of Park Avenue and contain an additional one million square feet of office space.

“With a new headquarters at 270 Park Ave.,” CEO Jamie Dimon, said in a statement, “we are recommitting ourselves to New York City while also ensuring that we operate in a highly efficient and world-class environment for the 21st century.”

The bank’s current headquarters at the same site, at 270 Park Ave., is an “outdated facility designed in the late 1950s for about 3,500 employees,” JPMorgan added. It plans to purchase development rights from landmarks in the surrounding district in order to build a larger structure, generating more than $40 million for public improvements to the streets, pedestrian plazas and sidewalks in the neighborhood under the new zoning plan.

Chase is expected to begin demolition of the building at 270 Park early next year, with the new tower set to open five years later. Chase has been quietly negotiating leases at nearby buildings — 237, 245 and 277 Park Avenue, as well as 390 Madison Avenue — for workers in the existing building, according to an executive who has been briefed on the bank’s plan but was not authorized to discuss it publicly.

Most employees will be relocated nearby while the work is completed, according to the statement.

“This is our plan for East Midtown in action,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday evening. “Good jobs, modern buildings and concrete improvements that will make East Midtown stronger for the tens of thousands of New Yorkers who work there.”

Chase, one of the city’s largest private employers, has long been unhappy with its aging headquarters, at 270 Park Avenue. Built in 1961, it originally was home to Union Carbide. The bank currently has about 6,000 employees crammed into the 52-story tower, which was built for 3,500.

According to the NYT, Chase has renovated the 57-year-old tower several times to make it more accommodating.

Four years ago, it went further, exploring construction of a two-towered $6.5 billion headquarters on the Far West Side of Manhattan. But a potential deal unraveled, partly because the city rebuffed a request to provide roughly $1 billion in tax breaks and cash, on top of the $600 million in property tax breaks the bank already receives.

In the meantime, the de Blasio administration spent three years negotiating over new zoning for what was called Midtown East with real estate interests, community groups and churches and other institutions in the Grand Central area that have unused development rights.

Developers and corporations argued that the old zoning in the densely built neighborhood hobbled their ability to build modern, space-efficient towers. Elected officials, community groups and the city wanted to ensure that improvements were made to the area’s transit system and streetscape if any new towers got built.

Under the terms of the rezoning, public projects across East Midtown would be funded by a minimum contribution from developers of $61.49 per square foot or 20 percent of the price of air rights or unused development rights. Chase plans to buy as much as one million square feet of air rights from other property owners in the district.

Under a separate rezoning done earlier, the developer SL Green is building a massive tower known as 1 Vanderbilt, next to Grand Central, in exchange for $220 million in improvements to subway corridors and platforms.

Full press release here.