The Real Deal New York

The mysterious vacancy of 23 Wall Street

China Sonangol bought the property in 2008 but has been unable to line up a retail tenant
November 17, 2014 08:45AM

Among the banks, financial companies and roughly 60,000 residents of the Financial District, one iconic building remains empty.

The landmarked building, 23 Wall Street, is a former J.P. Morgan & Co. location.It was built roughly 100 years ago and is located across from the New York Stock Exchange and Federal Hall National Memorial.

So, why does it still sit empty?

China-based owner China Sonangol — which reportedly makes its money by pumping oil in Africa as well as building luxury skyscrapers in Singapore and Indonesia — bought the property in 2008 for $150 million, according to the New York Post, but can’t seem to find a retail tenant to move in. It’s the Chinese company’s only U.S.-based holding, the newspaper reported.

A team of Cushman & Wakefield brokers has been looking for a retail tenant, but to no avail.

It’s unclear why China Sonangol is holding onto the building, according to the newspaper, but things could change. Some sources told the Post that Sonangol is looking to sell the property, instead of leasing it. [NYP] — Claire Moses 

  • Officer Gordon

    I’m guessing it has something to do with Bane…

  • Bullied and Damaged by Rent Re

    Did they turn down good offers or do they just want to attract attention to themselves by letting it go fallow like that to blame the Chinese government? Can they prove that they have been trying for years to rent out their site and may be unfairly boycotted as suggested in 2003 over the Co Luck shooting on Bowery?

    Don’t forget the real Chinese government sold their townhouse by Bloomingdale’s and took office space downtown instead and closed xinhua bookstore on elizabeth street for unprofitability.

    This reads more like HK collaborator than Chinese government especially since Glencore is involved. I don’t believe that smart British money would go to startups through Simon Murray’s fund rather than in something First World like tech stocks but he did something weird with Yunnan forests very similar to something the Japanese did and possibly still do with other people’s lumber resources and didn’t he do it with the help of a Mainlander?

    Don’t forget Elaine Chao is KMT but her dad is also friends with Jiang Zemin so it’s not necessarily Commie vs USA or KMT.

    • Bullied and Damaged by Rent Re

      Somewhere on the internet is a very good historical review of how colonialism is ultimately self destructive and why China will not go down that path in its “Peaceful Rise” because it ultimately fails – a companion to the documentary Why Are We Poor which covers Glencore in Zambia.

      Aren’t the real Chinese government deals very specific with Africa? There are a lot of foreign private companies competing with China on those types of deals in Africa and only when China came on the scene, did African governments feel they could play both sides against each other indicating that it was take it or leave it before. Japan was in the Congo in the 1970s and left behind local wives and children.

      I’m not going to say anything or side against American interests on this. BUT it is not in American interests if you can’t negotiate with the profiteers as you definitely can negotiate with the actual Chinese government. The former will act in their own self interest and blame the damage that they do on the Chinese government.

      • Bullied and Damaged by Rent Re

        All their holdings are in collaborator-disputed/Overseas Chinese-empowered territory:

        Singapore does not want over-moneyed foreign developement to rebalance the island nation hence the very onerous fine and refusal to allow rental of unsold units they impose on foreign developments.

        If someone was printing their own currency, they could conceivably buy HK, Singapore, some African nation or even NYC real estate, right? It wouldn’t be a fair fight because one side makes their money differently and more easily than the other side.

        • Bullied and Damaged by Rent Re

          It’s why we fought the Civil War, right? Because Europeans couldn’t win militarily but they could make an unfair dollar on enslaving Africans and then the South would out-wealth the industrial North. Those plantation owners had European ties – they could have been operatives acting as overseers, right?

          That might be why railroads ran from the Midwest to the North and not to the South after the Civil War. It must have infuriated our central government that there was foreign greed taking over inexorably economically instead of militarily (how many decades after the War of 1812 was the Civil War?) by doing something so inhuman.

          Because those first settlers – saw Native Americans and one of their reactions was to scoop them up and send them to the Caribbean as slaves. That’s pretty insane.

    • Bullied and Damaged by Rent Re

      Is China SonAngol really Chinese at all?

      Because though described as Chinese after the shizz hit the fan, Sino-Forest wasn’t actually Chinese:

      “Sino-Forest is a Wholly-Owned Foreign Enterprise that harvests, processes, and sells wood from leased or owned tree plantations in various Chinese provinces. Its international management hails from Hong Kong, China, and Canada. Sino-Forest trades on the Toronto Exchange, is audited by Ernst & Young, and its glossy annual reports boast of master agreements, huge markets, a plantation strategy, and possible a billion dollar loan from Chinese banks.”

  • Bullied and Damaged by Rent Re

    What are the real estate taxes?

  • Bullied and Damaged by Rent Re

    I personally do not care if the Commie government actually sucks and doesn’t deserve to exist and meets justice and discrimination appropriately.

    But I care if this is actually using an unpopular never defended scapegoat for organized crime on a global scale especially since Africa is a HUGE target for exploitation.


    It truly is ridiculous that this space is still empty all these years later. It is the perfect site for say, a Trader Joe’s. Brooks Brothers was supposedly about to sign for the Wall Street side of the space a couple of years back. Now that they have lost their spot on Church to Saks Off Fifth why not bring them back?

    • Monica McLaughlin

      Trader Joes? This is a small building in an extemely high density commercial and touristy area with ridiculous terrorism security and few residential buildings. Bad location for TJ type of business.

  • Bullied and Damaged by Rent Re

    Has anyone ever had a problem with this building being occupied but not looking it?

    What about that entire building in Nolita that Rupert Murdoch’s son purchased which had been previously occupied by the theater designer who let it go graffiti-covered and had a candle in each window with white curtains?

  • Brian Hughes

    You sell it, then it sits empty again for another 6 years…..