Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Queens Borough President Helen Marshall today joined Citigroup Chief Operations & Technology Officer Kevin Kessinger and Citibank Retail Distribution Group President Maura Markus to break ground on the company’s new 15-story, 528,000-square-foot building in Long Island City, Queens, which will bring about 1,800jobs to one of the City’s fastest growing business districts. The $290 million building at Court Square Two will be adjacent to Citigroup’s current tower at Court Square One. The Mayor also announced the City’s $30 million commitment to fund key infrastructure improvements in Long Island City, a 37-block area the City rezoned to spur commercial and residential development. Economic Development Corporation President Andrew M. Alper, Small Business Services Commissioner Robert Walsh, City Planning Director Amanda Burden and Tishman Speyer Managing Director Tony Mannarino attended the groundbreaking ceremony in Long Island City.
“Long Island City represents one of the City’s best opportunities to develop a central business district and create capacity for job growth, a key part of our economic development strategy,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Citigroup’s expansion and commitment to create more jobs is a clear sign of the business community’s confidence in Long Island City. Combined with the City’s $30 million allocation for key infrastructure improvements, this new building will prove to be a tremendous boost for the area.”
“I am delighted to share this special day with Citigroup as they commence work on their new tower,” said Queens Borough President Marshall. “This demonstrates the energy and vitality of Long Island City and Queens County. I look forward to cutting the ribbon on the new tower.”
“We are excited to break ground on our new building in Long Island City,” said Citigroup CEO Chuck Prince. “As we continue to grow, we are proud to be one of the City’s largest employers and to call New York City the home of our global headquarters.”
Construction of Citigroup’s second building in Long Island City is expected to be completed in 2007. The company also plans to improve the connection between the G and #7 subway lines by constructing an escalator and elevator that will allow passengers to walk between both lines underground. When completed, Citigroup will occupy a total of about 2 million square feet in Long Island City and 10.4 million square feet throughout New York City.
“From the start, our Administration has followed a five-borough economic development strategy that focuses on creating jobs and growing diverse areas of the City,” said EDC President Alper. “By investing public dollars to improve Long Island City’s infrastructure, we are creating the conditions to catalyze additional private investment. We are pleased Citigroup, already the City’s largest private sector employer, will continue its expansion by building this state-of-the-art office tower in Long Island City.”
In 2002, the Administration identified Long Island City as a major opportunity to attract and retain commercial businesses because of its proximity to Midtown and its superior transportation access. To encourage commercial development, the City allocated $30 million to reconstruct Queens Plaza, Jackson Avenue and other local streets. The reconstruction of Queens Plaza will improve traffic flow, increase pedestrian safety and enhance the environment through streetscape improvements and the creation of 1.5 acres of open space. The City garnered $17 million in federal funding for the project including $7.4 million coming from Representative Carolyn Maloney. Queens Borough President Helen Marshall will provide additional funds. The Queens Plaza project is currently in the design phase with construction expected to start by 2007. Jackson Avenue – envisioned as the business district’s main boulevard linking Queens Plaza with Court Square – will also be revitalized with new planted medians, public art, pedestrian furniture, street lighting, and improvement of nearby open spaces near Citigroup’s buildings.
“Creating great public spaces at Court Square and Queens Plaza and the transformation of the Jackson Avenue corridor that links them into a vibrant urban boulevard are critical to the City’s efforts to attract investment and achieve the great potential for new development in Long Island City, a potential that Citigroup is to be commended for recognizing early on,” said City Planning Director Burden. “In tandem with other soon-to-emerge commercial and residential buildings fostered by our recent rezonings, the design and landscaping of new green spaces at Court Square and Queens Plaza will help transform and redefine these areas as inviting gateways to the City’s newest and increasingly dynamic central business district.”
The City’s efforts to increase commercial opportunities in Long Island City and attract new companies to the area are paying off beyond the Citigroup expansion. The United Nations Federal Credit Union expects to complete its new 17-story Court Square building in Summer 2006. Known as Court Square Place, the new building will have 120,000 square feet of space available for lease to outside tenants. Separately, Tishman Speyer Properties, in a joint venture with Med-Mac Properties, has been designated by the City to re-develop the Queens Plaza Garage site, and is in the process of seeking an anchor tenant to allow development to move forward. Tishman Speyer is also the developer of the new Citigroup building as well as the Queens Plaza reconstruction project.
“One of our country’s greatest financial services companies, Citigroup long ago saw part of its future in Long Island City and became a pioneer here,” said Jerry Speyer, President and Chief Executive Officer, Tishman Speyer. “Today’s celebration is another sign of their long term commitment to this community. Tishman Speyer is honored to be the developer in this great project. We share Citigroup’s confidence in Long Island City and look forward to the neighborhood’s continued growth.”
The Mayor also announced the launch of the new Workforce1 Career Center at LaGuardia Community College, a $3.9 million City-led initiative to connect New Yorkers to jobs created by Long Island City’s economic growth. The Center, managed by the City University of New York and under contract with SBS, joins the network of six other Workforce1 Career Centers throughout the five boroughs and is the first to be opened on a community college campus, positioning it to serve a key population of jobseekers and enabling the Workforce1 system to better serve Western Queens. Since opening its doors on August 1, 2005, the Center has placed more than 100 people in jobs and expects to place an additional 2,000 in its first year.
“Our partnership with CUNY is about getting jobs for New Yorkers right here in Long Island City,” said Commissioner Walsh. “As part of the Mayor’s five borough economic development strategy, Long Island City is poised for tremendous growth. This growth means jobs—and it makes perfect sense to partner with one of this City’s leaders when it comes to training and development. By teaming up with LaGuardia Community College, our new Workforce1 Career Center is perfectly positioned to recruit, train and deliver good workers.”