The “Pizza Rat” of viral video fame would be well advised to steer clear of Long Island City’s subways.
The city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is close to leasing 80,000 square feet office space in two buildings in the neighborhood as the agency hires hundreds of new staffers for expanded programs like its “rat reservoir” initiative.
Currently headquartered at H&R REIT’s Two Gotham Center in LIC’s Queens Plaza section, the health department is in talks to sublease two floors spanning 50,000 square feet from Citigroup at the nearby 1 Court Square. The lease would go through 2020.
Citigroup currently occupies the vast majority of Savanna’s 1.5 million-square-foot tower.
“DOHMH has received significant new funding to expand multiple programs and services now and in the future. The agency is in the process of hiring hundreds of new staff, many of whom will be located at Gotham Center,” department representatives wrote in a letter of intent to lease the space. “However, DOHMH needs additional office space nearby.”
Asking rents for the floors are $35 per square foot.
A short subway ride north in the direction of Astoria, the health department is also looking to lease 27,000 square feet at 36-36 33rd Street, Alma Realty’s 194,000-square-foot former industrial building. Asking rents in the building are in the low-$30s per square foot, according to CoStar.
The agency needs the bigger real estate footprint in order to accommodate expanding programs such as an initiative to inspect cooling towers in response to last summer’s Legionnaire’s disease outbreak in the Bronx and one called the “Attacking Rat Reservoirs” program.
“The program tracks and addresses conditions on public and private properties that have rat reservoirs – areas where rat populations repeatedly rebound from extermination attempts,” the agency’s representatives wrote.
In the Queens Plaza area, Tishman Speyer plans to develop a 1.1 million-square-foot office project next door to the health department’s current headquarters at Two Gotham Center, which the developer built in 2011 and sold that year to H&R REIT for $415.5 million.
The new development is expected to cost $700 million and be completed by 2020.