Human rights watchdog has FiDi lease denied… by the Chinese government?

Landlord was acquired by Chinese state-owned company in 2017

88 Pine Street wrapped in barbed wire (Credit: Google Maps)
88 Pine Street (Credit: Google Maps)

Human rights watchdog group Amnesty International U.S.A. was ready to join the lower Manhattan office leasing wave — until the Chinese government said no.

Amnesty International was about to sign a lease for its new headquarters at 88 Pine Street in the Financial District, also known as Wall Street Plaza, when the landlord informed the organization that the building’s new owner had vetoed the deal, the New York Times reported.

“[The landlord’s] response was along the lines that we weren’t the best tenant for a building owned by a Chinese S.O.E. [state-owned enterprise], and that we probably wouldn’t want to be a tenant there anyway, given the owners,” Amnesty International U.S.A. spokeswoman Robyn Shepherd told the Times.

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Wall Street Plaza, a 33-story office building that opened in 1973, has been owned by a subsidiary of Hong Kong’s Orient Overseas Container Line for most of its 46-year existence. But in 2017, Orient Overseas was bought out by China’s Cosco Shipping in a $6.3 billion deal, creating one of the world’s largest container shipping operators.

As a result, Cosco also picked up 88 Pine Street, Orient Overseas’ only real estate investment in the United States.

Amnesty International, whose U.S. headquarters are currently at Haymes Investment Company’s 5 Penn Plaza, has long been critical of China’s human rights record, with recent reports highlighting the country’s mistreatment of transgender people, as well as its mass-detention campaign in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. [NYT] — Kevin Sun