JPMorgan Agrees to Fund Transit Upgrades Near Its New Manhattan Headquarters

(Bloomberg) -- JPMorgan Chase & Co. agreed to contribute to transit improvements near its expanding midtown Manhattan headquarters after city officials called on the company to shoulder more of the costs of its growth.

The bank said it would fund enhancements at Grand Central Terminal, including upgrades to the train shed, which is below the JPMorgan site and in need of rehabilitation. The contribution would also help pay for a new entrance to Grand Central at 48th Street, said Janno Lieber, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s chief development officer.

“If any of their work, which is being carefully coordinated with ours, has any impact to our budget and schedule,” the bank will cover the additional cost, Lieber said at an MTA meeting on Monday. “They’re taking responsibility for a significant multimillion-dollar number for work impact to the Metro-North train shed, which needs repair.”

Cities increasingly are turning to corporations to help fund public-service and infrastructure upgrades that are needed to accommodate growth. As the bank has planned its expansion at 270 Park Ave., New York has asked it to make transportation improvements in the area. JPMorgan will demolish its existing 52-floor tower and build a new one with about 70 floors where about 12,000 employees are expected to work, twice as many as before.

“For the past year, I have been in discussion with JPMorgan as they have worked on plans at 270 Park Ave.,” City Council Member Keith Powers said in a statement. “I have asked them to consider transit upgrades and other public benefits.”

The project falls under New York City’s 2017 rezoning of the Midtown East area, which paved the way for taller buildings in exchange for improvements to public areas. JPMorgan had to contribute more than $40 million to a fund for public-space upgrades, but it wasn’t required to make transit improvements mandated for some other developers because its site is outside of the zone where such a contribution is required. Still, Powers and others, including Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, asked the bank to invest in transportation near its office.

“Throughout this process, JPMorgan has made it a priority to engage and collaborate to find ways to deliver on our desire to create a world-class building that meets the needs of our company, the neighborhood and the city,” said Andrew Gray, a JPMorgan spokesman.

The contribution to transit isn’t the first time the bank has responded to public pressure over details of its new headquarters. The rezoning requires sites as big as JPMorgan’s to provide at least 10,000 square feet of public space, but the company argued last year that it could only find room for 7,000 square feet. Brewer said the bank hadn’t done enough to make sure it met the requirement.

“I believe in the importance of publicly accessible spaces to mitigate the density of office uses in East Midtown,” Brewer said in a written recommendation.

In the wake of public and political criticism, JPMorgan agreed in February to revise its proposal to include the 10,000 square feet. The same month, Amazon.com Inc. withdrew plans to set up a new campus in Queens amid concerns about housing costs, strains on transit and tax breaks for the company.

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