NYC Awaits Apple as Facebook, Google Pounce in Tech-Office Boom

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(Bloomberg) -- New York City is waiting on Apple Inc.

One year after the tech giant announced it would bring hundreds of jobs to New York, and on the heels of major Manhattan lease announcements by Facebook Inc. and Amazon.com Inc., the city’s real estate industry is wondering when the iPhone developer will make its move.

“The absence is surprising,” Jim Underhill, chief executive officer of commercial-property firm Cresa.

Apple, based in Cupertino, California, has a limited presence in New York beyond its popular retail stores. Facebook and Google, meanwhile, have become two of Manhattan’s biggest office tenants, a strong signal that technology companies are tapping into the educated workforce in a city long known as a media and finance stronghold. Even Amazon, which walked away from plans to build a new office hub in Queens early this year, recently signed a lease for 335,000 square feet near Hudson Yards.

NYC Awaits Apple as Facebook, Google Pounce in Tech-Office Boom

Apple is still hunting for office space in Manhattan, according to people with knowledge of the matter. The company is trying to figure out how much space it needs and could take more than 250,000 square feet, one of the people said.

Apple was reported earlier this year to be in talks with Vornado Realty Trust for a lease at its James A. Farley Post Office Building, but Facebook may end up getting the prized space instead. The project is across Eighth Avenue from Pennsylvania Station, and just east of the buildings where Facebook and Amazon signed their new leases.

As recently as two months ago, Apple looked at Essex Crossing, a Lower East Side development that will have 350,000 square feet of office space and more than 1,000 apartments, according to one of the people.

Apple declined to comment on its real estate plans.

NYC Awaits Apple as Facebook, Google Pounce in Tech-Office Boom

In addition to its retail stores in New York, Apple has a small corporate office near Union Square where it has some marketing and software engineering staff and operates parts of Apple News.

The company also keeps a large apartment in Tribeca for project demos and meetings with Apple developers. Occasional product launches have also been held in New York, such as the MacBook Air and iPad Pro updates in 2018.

Last month, Apple announced it was starting construction on a $1 billion campus that will expand its presence in Austin, Texas. The company continues to grow at its Cupertino headquarters, home to executives, marketing teams and the majority of its software and hardware engineers. And it plans to add hundreds of jobs in cities across the U.S., including Seattle, San Diego, Pittsburgh and Boston.

Then there’s New York, where the expectation is that Apple will eventually join other prominent technology companies with a major Manhattan lease.

“It’s more a matter of when, not if,” said Danny Ismail, an office analyst at Green Street Advisors. “It takes a decent amount of work to bring these things to the finish line.”

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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