JPMorgan buys Bear Stearns, headquarters included
JPMorgan Chase acquired Bear Stearns, which had been pushed to the brink of collapse by the subprime mortgage crisis. The initial sale price of $270 million, which was being revised upward at the end of March, included the Bear Stearns headquarters at 383 Madison Avenue valued at $1.2 billion. The 85-year-old investment bank, which survived the Depression, had been decimated by its mortgage-backed investments. JPMorgan reached an agreement to buy the firm on March 16 for less than one-tenth of its market price two days earlier, which sparked outrage among Bear employees. JPMorgan and the Federal Reserve will guarantee Bear Stearns’ huge trading obligations.
Blackstone CEO gives $100M for New York Public Library makeover
Stephen Schwarzman, the Blackstone Group CEO known as a buyout mastermind, has pledged $100 million for a makeover at the central New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street, the New York Times reported. After its reconstruction is finished in about 2014, the century-old Fifth Avenue structure will be called the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building. The central library will no longer be used just for research; it will absorb the circulating collection from the system’s Mid-Manhattan branch, at Fifth Avenue and 40th Street, which will be sold. The library has been criticized for its $59 million sale of the Donnell branch in Midtown in November to Orient-Express Hotels, which plans an 11-story hotel, with the library on the ground and basement floors.
Robert DeNiro’s luxury hotel set to open
Actor Robert DeNiro’s 88-room Greenwich Hotel at Greenwich and North Moore streets was set to finally open on April 1 with a promotion that might make some wonder if it’s really just a joke: $300 off the regular room rate. Although the reduction only applies to the lower-cost accommodations, the normally $725 rooms are all unique and feature a variety of treats, including newspapers delivered daily from the patrons’ hometowns, according to Hotelchatter.com.
City Tech tower plans killed
Developer Bruce Ratner and the City University of New York dropped plans for the Renzo Piano-designed City Tech tower in Downtown Brooklyn, the Brooklyn Paper reported. The residential tower with a dorm and lab could have reached 1,000 feet, making it Brooklyn’s tallest building. A top CUNY official said both sides had mutually agreed to kill the costly project. In December, CUNY raised Ratner’s fee to $307 million. Piano also pulled out, according to the New York Daily News. Council Member David Yassky said Ratner, who is building the Atlantic Yards mega-project, might have been stretched too thin by the credit crunch. Yassky also said the tower was “an awkward fit” for the corner of Tillary and Jay streets. CUNY still plans to build its dorm and lab in a building that could be only 10 stories.
Brooklyn’s Polytechnic University approves NYU merger
Trustees at Polytechnic University in Brooklyn approved a merger with New York University, despite an ongoing investigation by a state senator and questions from the attorney general’s office, the Times reported. Polytechnic postponed its merger vote in February after New York State Sen. Kenneth LaValle, the Republican chairman of the Senate’s Higher Education Committee, said he was investigating ethical and legal concerns. Opponents said NYU was only interested in acquiring Polytechnic’s real estate. Polytechnic has a 650,000-square-foot campus in Brooklyn’s MetroTech Center and holds air rights that developer Forest City Ratner could be interested in buying.