Pfizer looks to sell Midtown East HQ by the end of 2017

1M sf property on East 42nd Street is sticky subject in area’s rezoning

218 and 235 East 42nd Street
218 and 235 East 42nd Street

Global pharmaceutical giant Pfizer is looking to sell its headquarters in Manhattan, a property that is becoming a contentious sticking point in the proposal to rezone Midtown East.

Pfizer told employees it plans to sell its aging buildings at 219 East 42nd Street and 235 East 42nd Street by the end of next year, the Wall Street Journal reported, and expects to lease a new headquarters somewhere in Manhattan.

The buildings are interconnected and have about 1 million square feet of space between them. It had previously mulled a redevelopment of the headquarters. The company thinks it would move no earlier than the first half of 2019.

“In order to bring our building up to modern standards, it is going to take a significant investment,” a Pfizer spokesperson said. “In terms of capital deployment, that is not where we want to focus.”

Company executives said that a “substantial majority” of those employees working in the current headquarters will stay in Manhattan, though some may be relocated to other locations throughout the tri-state area.

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Pfizer expected to relocate its tax residence to Ireland earlier this year as part of its acquisition of the Dublin-based company Allergan, but that move was effectively quashed after the Obama administration made changes to tax laws.

The Pfizer property has a denser zoning than nearby parcels in Midtown East, and community advocates want to see the owner – whoever it may be – make more contributions to public improvements if the site is rezoned as part of the broader effort to modernize the business district. [WSJ]Rich Bockmann