What will it mean for the Financial District if its paper of record moves far away from Wall Street?
Rupert Murdoch is planning to move his newly acquired Wall Street Journal to his News Corp. headquarters at 1211 Avenue of the Americas, plucking the broadsheet’s newsroom from its home at Brookfield Properties’ World Financial Center in Battery Park City. The Observer first reported the news on its media blog on Monday.
At first glance, at least, the act seems to speak more to Mr. Murdoch’s desire to keep his offices close to those of his new prize than it does to any real estate trends in Lower Manhattan.
Had such a move been announced in 2002, it would have been sure to spark outrage from Lower Manhattan advocates, who were constantly decrying the catastrophic effects of a business exodus from downtown. But in 2008, “exodus” has all but fallen out of the vocabulary list as downtown’s vital signs appear normal. Five years from now, three of the world’s major financial firms—JPMorgan Chase, Merrill Lynch and Goldman Sachs—are slated to have headquarters surrounding what is now Ground Zero, and perhaps more could inhabit any of the four towers going up at the World Trade Center site.
As for media and advertising, if anything, firms have been migrating downtown in greater numbers of late. Advertising giant Omnicom has signed two large leases in the area in recent months, shifting operations from elsewhere in Manhattan into space at 195 Broadway and 7 World Trade Center. Others in the midtown-to-downtown club include ALM Media, publisher of The American Lawyer, and Niche Media.
Turn the clock back a half-century and The Journal’s departure would have seemed a bit more symbolically meaningful. The paper has always been the paper of finance, and finance was always in the Financial District. But in the past few decades, the banking sector has moved around, and especially in the past few years, many towers once containing the cogs of American capitalism have converted to condos as a street-life residential community begins to take form.
“The Financial District has been evolving for 20 years,” said the CEO of the Partnership for New York City, Kathryn Wylde. “I don’t think symbolically it’s significant.”
Much more significant, Ms. Wylde said, was The Journal’s decision in 2001 to move many of its reporters not only out of downtown but out of New York altogether, relocating part of its newsroom to New Jersey.
“I don’t think it’s a mandate in any way on downtown as a commercial center. I think it’s really about Rupert Murdoch wanting to consolidate his business,” said Elizabeth Berger, president of the Alliance for Downtown New York. “I see this as being anomalous.”
So tears, it seems, are hardly coming in buckets.