JPMorgan’s got an ace up its sleeve when it comes to getting city approvals for its new Midtown headquarters.
The bank earlier this year hired Ramon Martinez, a veteran inside the halls of the City Council who is expected to play a role in helping the company secure permission to shrink the amount of public space required for its new Park Avenue office, Crain’s reported.
Martinez spent more than a decade at the Council, including runs as chief-of-staff to Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and her successor, Corey Johnson. He was widely regarded by insiders as a key influencer behind the scenes when it came to legislative priorities and which bills came up for a vote.
He resigned in the summer, which could limit how much contact he has at the Council on JPMorgan’s public-space issue. The city’s conflict-of-interest laws prohibit city employees from contacting anyone at their former agency for a year after they leave.
There’s an outside chance that JPMorgan’s application could get stretched out to the point where Martinez would be free to jump into negotiations. A spokesperson for the bank said it conferred with the Conflict of Interest Board before hiring Martinez.
Although the Midtown East rezoning allows projects like JPMorgan’s planned 2.5 million-square-foot tower at 270 Park Avenue to go ahead as-of-right, the bank needs a special approval from the city to shrink the amount of public space it’s legally required to provide.
JPMorgan argues that its site presents unusual conditions due to the fact that it sits over a cavernous train shed connecting to Grand Central Terminal. The local community board on Wednesday voted against the plan, arguing that the bank failed to look into all options to provide the required space, and hasn’t offered any compensation for the shortfall. [Crain’s] – Rich Bockmann