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NEW YORK CITY-Confirming published reports, a spokesman for the FDIC tells GlobeSt.com the federal agency is moving its Manhattan operations from Downtown into two full floors at the Empire State Building. The FDIC signed a 10-year lease for 102,000 square feet in the iconic office tower at 350 Fifth Ave. just before the July 4 holiday weekend. The building that houses the agency’s current New York regional offices, 20 Exchange Pl., is being converted to residential use.

A spokeswoman for the Empire State Building Co., which owns the property, says the firm has no comment. CB Richard Ellis, whose Stephen Eynon is director of leasing at 350 Fifth, also declines to comment. A spokeswoman for Grubb & Ellis confirms that her company represented the FDIC in the deal but declines to provide further details.

The FDIC plans to move about 250 employees into 350 Fifth before the 20 Exchange Pl. lease expires at the end of 2010. In a May letter to FDIC chairman Sheila Bair, Downtown elected officials urged the agency to relocate within the neighborhood, despite its focus on potential locations within Midtown or Midtown South.

“In a troubled time, a move by the FDIC out of Lower Manhattan raises the potential for significant cost increases, an inappropriate burden when government at all levels must exercise extraordinary fiscal discipline,” read the letter, which was signed by Rep. Jerrold Nadler, state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and state Sen. Daniel Squadron. “We urge the FDIC to reject the results of a flawed search and issue a revised RFP with broader geographic eligibility including Lower Manhattan.”

In a statement, the FDIC says it “narrowed our original locations to Midtown and Midtown South after feedback from our employees.” The agency notes that the new location is “within walking distance to major transportation hubs,” and adds that the proposal from 350 Fifth’s leasing team was “highly competitive.”

Along with a $20-million green retrofit that’s intended to serve as a model for other existing buildings, the 78-year-old Empire State Building is undergoing a $500-million renovation and an aggressive re-tenanting program. To read more about it in the digital edition of Real Estate New York, click here.

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