Sweet Home City Hall

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The Municipal Building, new in 1913.Photo: Getty Images/Hulton Archive

To the Municipal, Jeeves! There may soon be a new plush address in town, with breathtaking views of the Brooklyn Bridge and City Hall. That’s right, there are rumors floating around that the city may sell the Municipal Building, that 39-story edifice at One Center Street from which much of the city is run, for a residential conversion. But, as always in these things, it’s stymied by the building’s longtime tenants: the city Comptroller’s Office, the Department of Finance, the Landmarks Preservation Commission, and the New York City Marriage Bureau. What happens to those city agencies if a deal goes through? Well, they’ll move to Tower Four at the new World Trade Center. (Is that the pointy one or the square one or the rhombic one?) An agreement brokered between Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Larry Silverstein has the city renting 600,000 square feet in the complex at $56.50 a foot (we imagine that the huge deal had something to do with the construction at the site finally hitting its stride).

So let’s review this arrangement: The city holds a fire sale; Tishman Speyer (or another gazillionaire family real-estate business, take your pick) condo-izes it and makes tons of money which the city will never see; meanwhile, the municipal agencies exchange rent-free life in a city-owned building for a $33,900,000 monthly bill, which goes to Silverstein. Everyone wins. That is, if by “everyone,” we mean a few private developers.

Speculation Buzzes on Possible Sale of Municipal Building in Manhattan [NYS]