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STAMFORD, CT-The decision by American Express Co. to vacate space it had leased here in the days following the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks will put as much as 175,000 sf of space on the sublease market in Fairfield County.

American Express officials say that the company will begin a phased relocation of its employees from leased space in Jersey City, Parsippany and Short Hills, N.J., as well as from 400 Atlantic St., in downtown Stamford to its offices in Lower Manhattan beginning next month (April). The timing of the relocation coincides with when the credit card giant’s space at 3 World Financial Center will be ready for occupancy once again.

Molly Faust, a spokesperson for American Express, says that the company is following through on its intentions announced last November to vacate its space in Stamford, Short Hills and Parsippany. Late last week, American Express announced that it would also vacate approximately 175,000 sf of space it had leased days after Sept. 11 in Jersey City. A total of 560 American Express employees now working out of Jersey City will relocate back to Lower Manhattan.

The American Express sublease will put another large block of space on the market in the Fairfield-Westchester county area. In 2001 and continuing into this year, both markets have suffered from a major increase in sublease space availabilities as corporations downsize their space requirements. At the end of 2001, approximately 34 percent of the total unoccupied space available in Fairfield County was sublease space, according to commercial brokerage firm Insignia/ESG. A year earlier, approximately 20 percent of the overall available space in the county consisted of sublease space.

The relocation program will eventually have American Express housing 3,500 employees at 3 World Financial Center, which was damaged in the terrorist attack. The company occupied one million sf of space there up until Sept. 11. In addition, the company will have 500 employees working out of its offices at 40 Wall St. in New York City.

While she would not say when the relocation program at 400 Atlantic St., in Stamford will be complete, Faust tells globest.com, “We are planning to keep some space there for business continuity reasons.” She would not divulge the amount of space American Express plans to keep at the property. In fact, since it relocated to the building the company has refused to divulge how many employees it has working at the 15-story, 440,000-sf property owned by 440 Atlantic Street Title, LLC, an affiliate of The Landis Group.

The sublease requirement is not officially being marketed as yet, but is expected to become available in the near future. The leases in Stamford, and at the various New Jersey locations, were “mid-term” lease deals, Faust relates.

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