Scotiabank Leaving Lower Manhattan?

1 liberty by robert konczol Scotiabank Leaving Lower Manhattan?Scotiabank may trace its origins to Halifax—a city synonymous with harbors and boundless horizons—and it may have chosen One Liberty Plaza, on the Hudson River, as its longtime New York home, but that doesn’t mean the bank is water-bound.

The Canadian institution has hired CB Richard Ellis broker Bruce Surry to find new offices of about 120,000 square feet, according to industry sources.

Mr. Surry declined to comment on precisely where Scotiabank is looking, or on anything else, for that matter. And Joe Konecny, a Scotia spokesman, wrote a rather unilluminating email to The Commercial Observer, the thrust of which was, “We do not comment on proprietary real estate issues.”

But a Bank of Nova Scotia relocation from Lower Manhattan would be a blow to the already teetering downtown office market. The bank has been a mainstay at Brookfield Properties’ One Liberty Plaza for decades.

A 1992 article in The New York Times about Mary Ann Tighe and her late mentor, Carol Nelson, indicates the bank’s relationship with its landlord is a complicated one: “[T]hey helped the Bank of Nova Scotia create a complex ‘phantom equity deal’ for 300,000 square feet of space at Olympia & York’s One Liberty Plaza. If the building becomes profitable, the bank gets a rent reduction.”

Later news reports indicate the bank proceeded to sublease much of that space. (A Brookfield spokeswoman said Scotiabank leases 220,000 feet.)

Following Sept. 11, the bank, which has helped finance real estate projects like Larry Silverstein’s River Place I and Bruce Eichner’s Citispire, reportedly received $3 million in federal monies in return for a promise to stay in Lower Manhattan for at least seven years. 

drubinstein@observer.com