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Queens Chronicle


Citi Tower: fun facts behind a business behemoth in LI City

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Posted: Thursday, June 27, 2013 10:30 am

At 50 stories and 658 feet, it is the tallest building on geographic Long Island and the tallest in New York State outside Manhattan.

But the Citigroup Building, located at One Court Square in Long Island City, is far more than the answer to a trivia question as far as Queens is concerned.

The skyscraper with its distinctive green glass facade opened in 1990 largely as an overflow for Citigroup’s Manhattan operations, which are based in the Manhattan tower with the distinctive slanted, 45-degree roof on Park Avenue.

Jack Friedman, executive director of the Queens Chamber of Commerce, said the multinational corporate giant fits in very nicely in a part of the city where it was ahead of the curve.

“There are not a lot of corporate headquarters in Queens,” Friedman said. “There is room here for corporate growth. It is one subway stop from Manhattan.”

Friedman said that would have been part of the company’s thinking when it first chose the location — to have its workforce so conveniently close. The tower, along with Citi’s neighboring Two Court Square, can house thousands of workers.

Just around the corner of the larger building’s main entrance is the Court Square subway station where one can catch the E, G, M and 7 trains.

Friedman said Citigroup has been able to take advantage of some of the same things JetBlue Airways was seeking in 2012 when it chose to relocate its headquarters to Long Island City within several blocks of the tower — a mature, educated workforce, convenient access to the world’s commercial and financial capital, and, on a more practical point, real estate and rental prices that are lower than those across the East River.

“They’re bringing jobs here,” Friedman said. “But they’re also bringing a powerful message. Queens has no real central business district; but Long Island City is close to becoming one.”

The financial sector, he said, always has focused on southern and then central New York County, even after Citigroup set up shop in Queens.

“But more and more, they are looking toward places like downtown Brooklyn and Jersey City,” he said. “They are moving out of Manhattan.”

For the scientifically minded, the website licsundial.net explains and illustrates how the tower with its unique profile on the Western Queens landscape acts as a giant sundial.

But, again, the business community regularly regards it as far more than a curiosity.

Real estate investors led by David Warner last year thought so much of the building and the location that they plunked down what multiple published reports said was in excess of $500 million to purchase it from SL Green Realty and JP Morgan.

Citigroup’s current lease extends through 2020.

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