As if anyone needed further proof that New Jersey’s second largest city (perhaps the largest once the 2000 census is completed) is now a destination of choice for Manhattan-based financial giants, Chase Manhattan’s deal for 1.1 million sf at Newport Center here should dispel any doubts.

The hard numbers are that Chase has signed a 20-year lease for all of the under-construction Newport Office Centers V and VI. In January 2002, almost 2,000 Chase employees and several hundred consultants will relocate from Manhattan to the Lefrak Organization-developed facilities. Altogether, the $10 billion MXD Newport Center occupies 600 choice acres on the Hudson River waterfront, directly across from Lower Manhattan.Besides offering river views, the 22- and 12-story buildings will have column-free space, granite and glass curtain wall facades and marble and granite lobbies. Chase will use the new locations for back-office and certain administrative operations. The architectural firm of Poskanzer & Skott designed the buildings.

Mayor Bret Schundler, who has played a key role is regenerating his city’s waterfront and downtown areas, and who is embroiled in an ongoing battle with state officials to hold onto Jersey City’s share of state urban funding, told that the project “will solidify Jersey City’s growing role as New Jersey’s business and financial capital.” Newark officials may disagree, but Jersey City has indeed stolen much of the thunder with its resurgence.

“This lease permanently validates Newport as a corporate destination,” asserts the Lefrak Organization’s Richard LeFrak.

State and local incentives played a key role in getting Chase to cross the Hudson, of course. The package is said to include a 20-year real estate tax abatement, a Business Employment Incentive Grant (tied to the number of jobs created), plus sales tax benefits. And as Schundler points out, “corporate taxes, occupancy costs and expenses and electricity costs are lower here than in Manhattan.”

The move hasn’t gone over well with some Chase employees, however. The pending deal was written up in the local press before it was officially announced—and before Chase officials told their own employees. State and local officials in New Jersey are suspected of having leaked the deal before anything was signed.

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