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Old Posted Jan 23, 2009, 6:43 PM
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$61 M. Up for Grabs Downtown with JPMorgan Tower 'in Hiatus'
Port Authority offers incentives once slated for investment bank's new WTC site digs

by Eliot Brown
Jannuary 23, 2009

It’s been 10 months since anyone involved in Lower Manhattan development took seriously JPMorgan Chase’s pledge to build itself a new 40-story investment banking headquarters across from the World Trade Center site. The financial titan’s shotgun marriage with a dying Bear Stearns last winter seemed to mostly kill the deal, as Bear Stearns had its own, newer midtown skyscraper for investment bankers, and JPMorgan was apparently less than eager to spend $3 billion on a new building it didn’t need.

But ever since, both JPMorgan and the Port Authority, which owns the site, have been coy about the status of the non-binding deal, with neither party having any incentive to announce its demise. (JPMorgan said it will not build an investment banking headquarters, but has said it still intends to use the site.)

Now, while holding to the line that JPMorgan could still build, the Port Authority on Thursday opened up some $61 million in tax credits intended for the financial firm to anyone who will take them. The subsidy, $5 per square foot off the rent for 750,000 square feet of space, can go to any business that takes space anywhere at the World Trade Center site or at site 5.

“What this is doing is reallocating it site-wide,” said Chris Ward, the Port Authority’s executive director. “There had obviously been an earlier discussion with site 5 and its availability for JPMorgan Chase. While that transaction is currently in hiatus, we thought it was important to make clear that it would be available to any commercial tenant who wanted to come downtown.”

So who will take it?

“Obviously, in this market right now, we’re talking to anyone who would like to be a tenant at 1 World Trade Center,” Mr. Ward said (he was referring to the Freedom Tower, a name officials have tried to phase out with little luck). “Whoever’s listening, if this rental credit is of good value, please come talk to us.”

The Freedom Tower is furthest along in construction, and it’s unclear what’s to happen with the three planned Larry Silverstein-owned towers to be built at the site.

A Port Authority spokeswoman e-mailed in response to some followup questions that "JPMC can still tap this incentive if we complete a deal but until deal is completed these credits should be available to the full spectrum of interested private tenants."

A JPMorgan spokesman declined to comment.
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