Downtown Still in Race to Host Merrill Lynch

silverstein Downtown Still in Race to Host Merrill LynchLower Manhattan could still keep its hold on financial giant Merrill Lynch, the Wall Street Journal reports today (at bottom), as “Downtown forces” recently went back to the bank with a revised package.

Just weeks ago, Merrill was very close to moving its headquarters to the site of Vornado Realty Trust’s Hotel Pennsylvania in midtown, just across Seventh Avenue from Penn Station. However, the move never came up at a meeting of the financial firm’s board, the Journal reports, which was too preoccupied with a write-down of $8.4 billion.

Since then, Merrill CEO Stanley O’Neal went into retirement – chief executives tend to weigh in heavily in a company’s location decision, real estate experts say – leaving open once again the question of where the bank will go when its lease at Brookfield Properties’ World Financial Center, just west of Ground Zero, expires in 2013.

Brookfield is pushing to expand its existing facility to accommodate Merrill, while Larry Silverstein is eager to bring the bank to one of his new World Trade Center towers.