Savanna doesn’t have much time to replace Amazon at One Court Square

Real estate firm planned to scoot-out CitiBank early this year

New York /
Feb.February 14, 2019 04:30 PM

Christopher Schlank, Jeff Bezos, One Court Square, Chistopher Schlank, and Jeff Bezos (Credit: Getty Images and One Court Square)

After Amazon announced that it would not build its campus in Queens on Thursday, public officials sparred over who was victor and who was vanquished. For the governor, the biggest losers were the people of New York. For other Democrats, the only loser was Amazon.

But in real estate the biggest loser of them all might be Savanna, the owner of the One Court Square office tower where Amazon planned to temporarily fill 1 million square feet until it built its own new building nearby.

Citigroup had previously planned to move out of 1 million of its 1.4 million square feet at the building by 2020, but that timeline was accelerated to early 2019 in order to make room for the incoming Amazon.

“In order to accommodate Amazon’s plans to build a headquarters in Long Island City, we had planned to move about 1,500 people at One Court Square to other floors there or to Two Court Square,” a company spokesperson told The Real Deal in a statement. “While these transitional plans may change, our long-term plans to relocate most of our current employees in Long Island City to other New York metropolitan area locations have not changed.”

The bank has been consolidating employees at its headquarters at 388 Greenwich Street, which will eventually hold 12,000 Citigroup workers. Citigroup paid $1.8 billion to reacquire the property from SL Green in 2016.

Savanna, which declined to comment, now has fewer than 10 months to find a replacement for Citi’s space, as well as space given up by the cable company Altice, which was reportedly booted from the building to make room for Amazon. Altice, which plans to move into a 130,000 square feet at another building in the neighborhood, did not return a request for comment.

At the time Citi first announced it would leave its 1 million square feet at One Court Square last year, asking rents at the building sat between $55 and $65 per square foot. Savanna, which is co-partnered by Christopher Schlank and Nicholas Bienstock, refinanced the property’s $315 million mortgage in 2015 after briefly flirting with a potential residential conversion.


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