President To Lease West Side Office; Hillary Goes East

It looks like the West Wing is relocating to the West Side.

With his Jan. 20 eviction date looming, President Bill Clinton is close to a deal to lease a suite of offices occupying a full floor near the top of the Carnegie Hall Tower, at 156 West 57th Street, a real estate executive familiar with the deal told The Observer.

And as the President goes West (Side), Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton is setting her eyes on the East. On Jan. 11, she signed a deal to lease 7,500 square feet of space in an office building at 780 Third Avenue, real estate sources told The Observer.

At the Carnegie Hall Tower, Mr. Clinton will be taking digs befitting a post-POTUS. While his office will almost certainly be square, not oval, from the top of the 60-story tower “the views are to die for,” said one person who has offices there. Central Park South and the verdant expanse of Central Park lie directly to the north, and Times Square, Rockefeller Center and the rest of the city’s skyline soar to the south. And if Mr. Clinton finds himself going stir-crazy, he can always head downstairs and hang out with his pal Barry Diller; the entertainment mogul has offices on the 40th floor.

A White House spokesman had no comment yesterday. Steve Morrows, executive vice president of Rockrose Development Corp., said, “right now I have no comment.” Sources said that, at $85 to $90 a square foot, it would be a pricey deal, even by Manhattan real estate standards. As with other ex-president’s, Mr. Clinton’s office expenses will be paid for by the taxpayers.

“The Clintons have determined that they are going to live first-class, and clearly that’s what we’re talking about here,” the real estate executive said.

Indeed, at 780 Third Avenue, Mrs. Clinton will be living considerably better than her predecessor, former Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who had offices in the Chrysler Building. Mrs. Clinton wanted something newer, with a better technological infrastructure, and the 50-floor red-granite tower, built in 1984 and located between 48th and 49th streets, would seem to fit the bill. Mrs. Clinton’s offices will be midway up the building’s tower, sources said.

When she’s in the office, Mrs. Clinton will be within easy walking distance of Senator Charles Schumer’s offices right across the street–to say nothing of the Waldorf Astoria, one of the President’s favorite Manhattan spots, and Grand Central Terminal, making for an easy Metro North commute to Chappaqua.

Jodi Pulice of JRT Realty Group, the building’s managing agent, declined to comment yesterday. But according to the building’s Web site, space on a lower floor is being marketed at $63 a square foot. Since this will be Mrs. Clinton’s local Senate office, taxpayers will be picking up the tab.

Mr. Clinton had been looking at 780 Third Avenue himself, one source said, but decided to go elsewhere when his wife decided to move in.

The President did some office-hunting on Jan. 7, after attending his wife’s ceremonial swearing-in at Madison Square Garden. He seemed particularly taken with 30 Rockefeller Center; but according to a person who has spoken with Jerry Speyer, whose Tishman-Speyer Realty owns the landmark site, security concerns nixed that idea. The public plaza below his office window would offer a potential staging ground for protesters and well-meaning gawkers, and getting Mr. Clinton in and out of the building would present numerous logistical problems.

By contrast, protesters–or those with more dubious intentions–wouldn’t last long against the constant crush of pedestrians along 57th Street. And a person with offices in Carnegie Hall Tower could easily imagine Mr. Clinton slipping out the back door, on 56th Street, with a minimum amount of hassle. There’s a parking garage located right next door.

Best of all, the tower’s floors are relatively small near the top, allowing the President to take an entire floor. That would allow the Secret Service to control elevator access to the offices, and assure that the only friskings going on will be those Mr. Clinton may choose to perform himself.