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MasterCard narrows choices.

MasterCard International has narrowed its choices for a new world headquarters to three Manhattan high-rises.

Although the worldwide company had considered Westchester - and White Plains locations in particular - at the start of its search, a spokesperson said its international board was determined to maintain the city presence.

"You have an international board made up of international companies," explained spokesperson Steven Apesos. "The board needs that New York City address."

The company is seeking 200,000 to 250,000 square feet for its current 450 member workforce that is expected to grow to 750 in the near future. It's current home is at 888 Seventh Avenue where the lease expires in 1995. The City of New York has already cut a deal that exempts them from city and state sales taxes related to the move and allows a credit against real estate taxes for every employee hired above the 450.

MasterCard is being advised by Cushman & Wakefield, which declined to discuss the attributes of the properties while negotiations are underway.

Apesos said MasterCard had negotiated with 1585 Broadway, 1221 Sixth Avenue (the McGraw Hill Building), and 1345 Sixth Avenue (Burlington House). The Burlington House property has already been pitched to MasterCard employees and industry sources said the company is very close to completing that deal.

The Burlington House owners are offering to rename the building after MasterCard which would give the company an even greater presence in the city. Sources say Burlington may give up more than its name and soon move from the four floors it has left in the property.

This 51-story building has the top six floors available and is located just north of the New York Hilton, a destination hotel for many foreign travelers. Smith Barney Harris Upham & Co. is vacating that space since its purchase by Primamerica which is moving various divisions to the Shearson building downtown on Greenwich Avenue. Real estate brokers say the trend now is for company's to play "musical offices" and cited the possible Newsweek move to the MasterCard offices as one example.

The 1345 Sixth Avenue package would include use of the lobby by MasterCard. "One of the things we don't have now is an opportunity to exhibit the company's global services and this was a chance to have them in a large enough lobby and a public area," Apesos noted. These include the Thomas Cook Travel services and Cirrus money machines.

Fisher Bros.' Kenneth Fisher, who is leasing the property, said he could not comment. According to the Yale Robbins Midtown Office Buildings guide, the building has 1.8 million square feet. Its owner, Barrington Co., lists M. Anthony Fisher of Fisher Bros. as a principal.

Among the other major tenants are: Howard J. Rubenstein Public Relations, Arthur Andersen and Elizabeth Arden, which also runs an outlet shop in the basement. A cafeteria for building employees is located in the basement as well as a 341-car garage.

Tenants say security is tight and on weekends a computer scans ID cards in conjunction with the sign-in log. The lobby was redone recently.

Daniel K. Ludwig, the late-billionaire ship builder, was involved in the development of the building and his firms retain offices there. While no one could confirm the story, and the Building Dept. records do not show one, it is said he took therapeutic swims there in a private pool every day.

MasterCard, as well as other corporations looking for a new home, have other prime choices available. The McGraw Hill building is located farther down Sixth Avenue between 48th and 49th Street and is part of Rockefeller Center. That tower opened in 1972, is also 51 stories tall and contains 2.209 million square feet. The major tenant is McGraw Hill with Columbia House taking up three floors. A few other floors are inhabited by multi-tenants.

As part of Rock Center, the McGraw building is connected to the extensive underground concourse shopping as well as the subway. Tenants' employees receive discounts in shops and restaurants. A popular Cardio-Fitness Center is located in the concourse level under McGraw Hill as well. A below-ground plaza is currently the site of the Chinese Tai Pei Theater and Gallery.

Lee Saltzman, senior vice president at Rockefeller Center, said one of the benefits of this building is that the former Irving Trust Bank location fronting on Sixth Avenue could be made part of the package.

Other unique features that are part of the McGraw Hill installation and could be made available to MasterCard in its lease package include the use of the 50th floor executive dining area, an employee cafeteria in the concourse and a second floor auditorium seating 300 to 400.

Floors six through 15 are available with six and seven containing 71,000 square feet each while eight through 15 contain 43,000 square feet each. One elevator bank serves floors two through fourteen which is a crossover floor, while the 15th floor is served by a different elevator.

Another building on the corporation's short-list is 1585 Broadway. "Things are definitely picking up," said Richard Currenti, the building manager. The former Solomon Equities building is in the hands of the lending bank consortium and Hines Interests is acting as adviser on its disposition.

Its only tenant, the law firm of Proskauer Rose Goetz & Mendolsohn, occupies 11 floors comprising 350,000 square feet, and has its own elevator bank and concierge. The firm, which eventually filed a lawsuit, was complaining bitterly nearly from the time of its move-in 1990 that services were nearly non-existent and that work had not been completed.

A bankruptcy deal arranged with the lending consortium of eight banks was confirmed in March and they will take title within the next five months, resolving the ownership and management issues.

Proskauer partner, Herbert T. Weinstein, said they worked out a "punch-list" and the problems are being rectified. But Weinstein said a lease up of the building will not happen soon enough, claiming the banks, led by the Bank of Montreal, Toronto Dominion and Swiss Bank, are not actively seeking tenants but merely buyers. Weinstein said he heard the lenders are unwilling to pay for tenant improvements.

Daniel E. Rashin of Hines said, "If the deal is right, we will find a way to do it [and pay for improvements]," noting the bank is pursuing a duel strategy with the first part of it to seek out purchasers.

As the other part of the strategy, they have been directed to seek out users whose occupancy in the building would make the building more valuable for a sale.

The building offers retail storefronts on Broadway and used correctly, advised Rashin, that would be an advantage in the building.

There has been interest from tenants who are looking for in excess of 100,000 square feet of space, Rashin added, as well as potential purchasers including those with off-shore funding.

"The good news is that it has that block of space available, and that is the unfortunate flip side of having gone through the problems," he said.
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Title Annotation:MasterCard International Inc. searching for new world headquarters in New York, New York
Author:Weiss, Lois
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Apr 21, 1993
Previous Article:Public relations firm moves in Midtown.
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