Volume 23, Number 13 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | August 4 - 10, 2010
From the Archives
Goldman Sachs and BPC, then and now
In September 2005, the Downtown Express ran an article entitled “C.B. 1 says Goldman Sachs is selling it short” by Ronda Kaysen. Kaysen reported on the Community Board 1 Battery Park City Committee’s outrage over sudden news that Goldman Sachs was building its 740-foot tall global headquarters on West and Murray Streets because “no additional amenities will be offered to the community” and it will be “entirely cut off from public access.”
About five years later some of those same employees came to a friendlier C.B. 1 meeting. While the B.P.C. Committee primarily voiced its concerns in 2005, it was mostly delighted during its recent July 28 meeting to hear that Goldman Sachs will revamp 120 North End Avenue, which it owns. Plans include new hotel management under the luxurious Conrad brand and a partnership with Danny Meyer, CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group, to bring in a Shake Shack, Blue Smoke and new fine dining restaurant.
In 2005, Linda Belfer, chair of the B.P.C. Committee, pleaded that Goldman Sachs change its decision to bring in 9,000 workers and close its doors to the community. “‘We are going to be suffering the consequences of more than 9,000 new citizens. We would like to think that Goldman would reconsider its decision and make a further contribution’,” Belfer told Goldman Sachs representatives.
“‘I would like to see some of this largess happen for us rather than it be discussed as some long-term theoretical concept,’ said C.B. 1 member Barry Skolnick.”
But Goldman Sachs had plans for the community, including “$3.5 million for a new library” and “$1 million for a new community center.”
Five years ago, Goldman Sachs merely flirted with the idea of moving to 200 West Street, with hesitance over security and financial uncertainty, but signed the final papers once they were offered attractive incentives. “With the added public financing, Goldman Sachs will probably save $100 million in interest costs over 30 years from the Liberty Bonds, according to the Independent Budget Office, a nonpartisan group,” wrote Kaysen.
“‘I’d like you to approach the community not just as another good deal, but as a good neighbor and a good friend,’” C.B. 1 member Tom Goodkind told Goldman representatives,” reported Kaysen.
Despite C.B. 1’s hard line, however, the real estate deal was finalized well before Goldman Sachs addressed the B.P.C. Committee. But now 5,000 square feet of retail space on 200 West Street will be available to the community. The shop may sell flowers, dessert, wine or eyewear.
But much like its decision to establish its global headquarters Downtown five years ago, Goldman Sachs made the disclosure after they had already made a final decision. As Kaysen reported, “The request might be more a formality than a genuine possibility. ‘It’s highly unlikely that we’ll get any’ additional amenities, C.B. 1 chairperson Julie Menin told Downtown Express after the meeting. ‘But it’s incumbent upon us — as a community — to at least ask.’”
— compiled by Michael Mandelkern