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Why JPMorgan bankers want to move from Park Ave., why they don’t

JPMorgan is reportedly considering moving its New York headquarters from its posh Park Avenue location to the West Side. The bank is eyeing a $6.5 billion two-tower campus at Hudson Yards, a new build adjacent to the Javits Center and just a block from the Hudson River.

The pluses for JPMorgan moving away from one of the most historic parts of Manhattan are obvious: it’ll be cheaper in the long run and will give the bank access to better technology. The downsides are more about JPMorgan employees than the bank itself. Here’s a breakdown of the pros and cons for bankers who would make the move west, if indeed JPMorgan inks a deal.

Con: Location, location, location.

Sitting on Park Ave. between 47th and 48th Street, JPMorgan’s current headquarters are ideal for commuting. Grand Central Terminal is just a couple blocks away, giving bankers access to subways that can take them anywhere in the city and, more importantly, trains out to the suburbs. It’s as commutable a location as anyone could ask.

Hudson Yards, meanwhile, is a real estate development that takes up the lower 30s between 10th Street and the West Side Highway.  The potential site for JPMorgan is on the northeastern side of the development, on 33rd between 10th and 11th.

While Penn Station is several avenues over, Hudson Yards isn’t nearly as commutable. Subway options are limited and, unless you live in New Jersey, you’ll need to take the commuter rail over to Grand Central after a hefty walk. The number 7 subway line is being extended to reach Hudson Yards, but that’s not a well-traveled line for people who work in banking.

Also, it’s far from being the epicenter of financial services. The building will neighbor the headquarters for Coach, the luxury bag designer, and department store Neiman Marcus has chosen the location for its flagship New York City store. Media company Time Warner has also signed on.

Currently, the area is rather unattractive. But as you’ll see, major changes are in the works.

Pro: The view


Located just a few hundred yards from the Hudson River, the views should be rather amazing. Above is a photo taken this week from the Coach offices that looks down over where the tower would be located. The buildings planned for the area are towers, unlike the more diminutive Coach building, so the view would be even more spectacular. Below is a rendering of what the developer's have in mind, shot from the other side of the river.

Evening View Of Hudson Yards, From The Hudson River tn - Courtesy Related Oxford

Con: Fine dining, at least for now

While midtown isn’t the epicenter for fine dining in New York City, it offers hundreds of options, from casual lunch spots to pricey steakhouses. Hudson Yards, sandwiched between Chelsea and the Garment District, is as void of good places to eat as anywhere in Manhattan. Below is the closest restaurant to the site.


Now, that said, Hudson Yards is a huge build and will no doubt attract other businesses and restaurants to the area. The developers expect seven levels of shops and restaurants, and the 500 residences that are planned should bring even more big culinary names to the area. They are also planning a luxury hotel.

But that will take time. Who knows, years down the road it could grow into something special.

Pro: Outdoor space

Unlike crowded Midtown, Hudson Yards has the High Line, a 1.5-mile linear park that weaves through the area, plus Hudson River Park, a beautiful stretch of running and biking paths that run alongside the river. The developers also say they are planning 6 acres of open space that will exist between the towers and stores.

Hudson Yards is also planning a 750-seat public school, which would be great for some parents.

Below is a rendering of the planned open space.

View Of Hudson Yards, Looking South From The No. 7 Subway Station tn - Courtesy Related-Oxford

Con: A lack of history and prestige

Say what you want about shiny new buildings and fresh amenities, Park Ave. has panache. The location has been associated with JPMorgan for decades and draws connotations of power and money. Hudson Yards is a project with high aims. Park Avenue is Park Avenue.

Pro: It keeps workers in Manhattan

Like other banks, JPMorgan is moving employees out of high cost locations like New York City. The bank has been pushing people out to New Jersey, Delaware, Florida, and is even said to be working on a facility in Brooklyn. But a two-tower site like the one planned at Hudson Yards would likely slow the drain off talent to lower cost areas.

The New York Times, which first broke news of the negotiations, said the towers could house 16,000 workers. That’s a nice feeling if you like working in the city.

Currently, JPMorgan is said to be in negotiations with the builder, but they’re looking for subsidies for the city, which, under Mayor Bill de Blasio, has shown little interest in providing additional financial support. City officials told the Times they've given out around $600 million in tax breaks related to the project already. JPMorgan hasn't commented on any potential moving plans.

So it’s a wait-and-see for the moment. The towers aren’t expected to be completed until around 2018.

AUTHORBeecher Tuttle US Editor
  • pb
    24 October 2014

    The commute there will be awful, thus making it very attractive to corporate bosses who get car services every day and love to see their employees suffer. The 7 line completely misses Penn Station and due to city cheapness has only one station in the area, by Javits.

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