Currently headquartered on 12 floors at 118-29 Queens Blvd. inthe Forest Hills section of Queens, the airline will move six milescloser to Manhattan by subleasing approximately 200,000 square feetat Brause Realty's 27-01 Queens Plaza North in Long Island City.Ironically, the tenant from which it's subleasing the space isMetLife, whose logo now sits atop Manhattan's 200 Park Ave. in aspace once occupied by the Pan Am emblem.

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In 2012, JetBlue will consolidate its present operations inForest Hills and Darien, CT into the Long Island City space, whichwill house a total of 950 employees. Seventy positions from theDarien offices, which provide transactional financial support, willbe relocated to Queens. At a news conference Monday afternoon,JetBlue CEO Dave Barger said the airline plans to add another 130positions at its new headquarters over the next few years.

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For more than a year, the airline had contemplated relocatingfrom the city. Barger said Monday afternoon that the roster ofcandidates for JetBlue's corporate offices was finally whittleddown this past fall to a shortlist of two cities: New York City andOrlando, where it maintains a training center known as JetBlueUniversity.

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Both cities worked to persuade the airline on its headquartersdecision. The Orlando Sentinel quoted a spokeswoman for theOrlando Economic Development Corp. as saying her city offeredJetBlue $39 million worth of incentives, including tax-exempt bondfinancing, cash, workforce training and infrastructure developmentsupport.

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Barger had expressed concern that the cost of relocating fromNew York City was a liability, the Sentinel reported. Theairline employs a total of 5,000 across New York State. Publishedreports say the tax incentives offered by New York City and Statewere comparable to the package Orlando presented.

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For its part, the Bloomberg administration—in tandem with theEmpire State Development Corp., the Port Authority of New York andNew Jersey and both the state's US senators—mounted a considerableeffort to keep its homegrown tenant from moving out. At Monday'snews conference, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the incentivesincluded "opportunities for unique co-branding promotions."Specifically, the state and JetBlue, which touts itself as "NewYork's Hometown Airline," will begin joint branding of the familiar"I Love NY" logo.

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In an effort that Bloomberg said was spearheaded by Deputy MayorRobert Lieber, the city helped the airline shop around forlocations. "We presented JetBlue with an array of creative realestate options in up-and-coming areas of our city," Bloomberg saidMonday. The airline opted for Long Island City, where its newlocation, the century-old Brewster Building, boasts anaviation-related lineage as the onetime headquarters of theBrewster Aeronautical Co. MetLife will maintain a presence at theproperty with 800 employees, according to a release.

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Bloomberg said Monday that as part of the agreement withJetBlue, the city will make a capital investment of up to $3million toward the airline's continued growth of its hub at John F.Kennedy International Airport. The airline's JFK base, Terminal 5,opened in October 2008. The 636,000-square-foot facility isdesigned to accommodate up to 250 flights per day.

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Paul Bubny

Paul Bubny is managing editor of Real Estate Forum and GlobeSt.com. He has been reporting on business since 1988 and on commercial real estate since 2007. He is based at ALM Real Estate Media Group's offices in New York City.