What Shining New Tower Might Citi Help Build?

  • Citigroup owns some of the most iconic office buildings in the city. Not only is there its headquarters at 601 Lexington, with its jagged roof and gravity-defying base, but also Queens’s tallest tower and a waterfront monolith in Tribeca. As Citi prepares to leave that last home and go in search of some 2.6 million square feet, the Journal reveals that “Citigroup managers had discussions with several landlords about developing a new tower for the company.” While the bankers just as well might stay put at 388 Greenwich, this got us thinking about exactly what on-the-horizon towers Citi could wind up in.

    While this is far from a comprehensive list of the commercial development coming to town—and no doubt more will be announced in the years to come—these are the projects that first came to mind. If you think of any good ones we forgot—maybe Solow’s East Side project, or some new towers around Moynihan Station—do let us know in the comments.

  • The most obvious choice would be 3 World Trade Center. Not only is Larry Silverstein desperate to find an anchor tenant so he can keep building the tower rather than pausing it at eight stories, but he nearly attracted another finance tenant last year when UBS took a serious look at relocating here from Stamford. Plus, it is close to the building Citi is vacating at 388 Greenwich.

  • Silverstein hopes to continue construction on 3 WTC and have a completed tower by 2015, which would be too early for Citi to move in. Perhaps the even larger 2 World Trade Center next door, which is set to stop construction at street level, might be a good option.

  • Another choice might be 5 World Trade Center, planned for the site of the old Deutsche Bank Building at 130 Liberty Street. At 1.3 million square feet, it is half the size of the space Citi is currently vacating, but since Wall Street has been downsizing in the wake of the financial crisis (of which Citi has been far from immune) this might not be a bad choice. Plus, it seems like the firm would want to maintain a downtown presence, for geographic convenience—Park Slope, anyone?—and Wall Street proximity.

  • Turning our attention uptown, we come to Hines’s new project overlooking Bryant Park—and down the block from Bank of America’s New York operations. A striking choice, but also almost certainly too small at 474,000 square feet.

  • Still, if the Far West Side somehow appeals to Citi, another possibility for the firm might be Gary Barnett’s competing One Hudson Yards. Again, it’s on the smaller side, at 1.7 million square feet, but it enjoys the advantage over its neighbors of being built on solid ground rather than over the Penn Station rail yards, meaning the project could get underway soon.

  • Hudson Yards seems like a promising option, with a new neighborhood blossoming around you—hello High Line!—and Coach moving in just next door. But buttoned-down bankers are loath to go as far as Eighth Avenue, making 10th seem like a real stretch.

  • A little more westerly—Ninth Avenue!—is Brookfield’s Manhattan West project. With more than 3 million available square feet, it could fit the bill, but it also requires decking to build—though wrapping up in the next eight years certainly seems possible.

  • It is times like these when the mayor’s argument for rezoning Midtown East come to mind. Citi already has space in the area, but good luck finding something comparable. This is why L&L wants to totally remake 425 Park Avenue. The building would only have 625,000 square feet, but the rezoning could boost that by 50 percent. Probably not enough, but it is fun to think about the possibility for other sites, as well ...

  • ... Like 51 East 42nd Street. SL Green currently owns the building, which it plans to redevelop with Hines into a 1.2-million-square-foot tower. But the Midtown East rezoning has provisions that could possibly double allowable development within the area, not only creating a tower big enough for Citi but one that would also anchor the skyline, not unlike 399 Lexington. Plus, SL Green is already Citi’s tenant downtown, so it might even offer the bank an inside deal.