Morgan Stanley Move Signals Change in Post-9/11 Mindset

Four years later, Morgan Stanley moves 2,300 employees back to lower Manhattan


NEW YORK -- Morgan Stanley will shift 2,300 employees, about a quarter of its New York work force, to the southernmost skyscraper in Manhattan -- a move hailed as an important step in post-Sept. 11 downtown redevelopment.

The banking titan will lease about 648,000 square feet of space at One New York Plaza, where it already has about 400 workers. Most of its roughly 10,000 New York employees will remain in midtown Manhattan.

The move represents a substantial return to lower Manhattan for Morgan Stanley, which was the largest tenant of the World Trade Center and lost nine employees in the 2001 terrorist attack.

"It's great to be back," Morgan Stanley CEO Philip Purcell told reporters. He said his own office would remain in midtown, and declined to discuss terms of the lease.

Gov. George Pataki and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who have pushed relentlessly for the major financial-services companies to commit to lower Manhattan, praised the decision.

"This is exactly where you should be," Bloomberg said at a press conference at the building. "This is the financial center of the world, and it will continue to be the financial center of the world."

One New York Plaza is next to the Staten Island Ferry terminal at the southern tip of Manhattan.

Bloomberg noted the space leased by Morgan Stanley is equivalent to about 12 professional football fields -- a perhaps-not-coincidental statistic one day ahead of a key vote on a plan to build a stadium on Manhattan's West Side.

Political observers have suggested Bloomberg and Pataki are pushing projects for lower Manhattan to win stadium support from Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who represents the area and holds one of three votes on the controversial plan.

Morgan Stanley gets an $11 million federally funded grant from the city and state to move the 2,300 workers downtown. It can win another $5 million by moving 600 more over the next five years.

Charles Gargano, chairman of the Empire State Development Corp., called it the largest "financial service attraction deal" to date for downtown Manhattan.

The mayor and governor have been heavily lobbying another banking titan, Goldman Sachs & Co., to return to lower Manhattan.

The bank recently scuttled its plans to build a 40-story tower near ground zero, citing concerns about a proposed tunnel that would run beneath the site and that the firm worries will send traffic too close to the tower's entrance.