New Citigroup Building Brings Jobs To Queens
Queens Borough President Helen Marshall and Mayor Mike Bloomberg stand next to a rendering of the new Citigroup building proposed for Long Island City. Tribune photo by Ira Cohen.
By Azi Paybarah
Citigroup officials said their proposed 14-story, $200 million building will bring 1,500 employees to Queens and provide 1,500 construction jobs during the two year construction period.
Court Square Two will be located across the street from Court Square One, a 48-story facility that opened in 1989 and now houses 4,800 employees.
The groundbreaking is set for sometime early next year, according to city officials.
At a press conference inside Court Square One, Citigroup President and Chief Operating Officer Robert Willumstad said his company is expanding in Queens because of its proximity to midtown Manhattan, where another Citigroup building is located. Pulling out a Metrocard from his pocket, Willumstad said, “I took the subway here today, just one stop.”
As part of the move, Citigroup will pay for the construction of an escalator for riders on the No. 7 and G trains to walk between both lines underground.
Willumstad added, “[I]t makes sense to have continuity of management as we expand.”
Long Island City is “truly coming into its own,” said Borough President Helen Marshall who said the area is “going to give New Jersey a run for its money” in terms of being a destination for businesses looking to relocate from Manhattan.
But Citigroup is moving 1,600 jobs to Warren, New Jersey and 300 jobs to Long Island — both from their downtown Manhattan location — to make way for higher paying management jobs, Willumstad said.
Overall, there will be a net-gain of 600 jobs over two years, according to Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Empire State Development Chairman Charles Gargano.
Referring to the New Jersey-bound jobs, Assemblyman Michael Gianaris said, “We should be doing a lot more” to attract them here. Gianaris, who represents nearby Astoria and portions of Long Island City, said, “There is a whole host of businesses in Jersey City that could have been located in places like Long Island City.”
But local business advocates welcomed Citigroup’s expansion, saying it could be the catalyst needed to spur local development.
Chairman David Brause of the steering committee for the proposed Court Square Queens Plaza Business Improvement District said, the new Citigroup employees will be “dressed up in suits and they’ll be spending money.”
He added, “Its all about density” and “getting more and more people to work in Long Island City.”
Councilman Eric Gioia said Citigroup’s expansion here “represents the next step in the development of Long Island City as a major New York business district.”