JetBlue Renews its Commitment to NYC and Soaks Up 200,000 SF of Sublet Space

After surveying various locations across the country, JetBlue Airways has decided to stay put in New York and consolidate its area headquarters space via a new 200,000-square-foot sublease at the Brewster Building in Long Island City, Queens.

March 26, 2010
By Barbra Murray, Contributing Editor

After surveying various locations across the country, JetBlue Airways has decided to stay put in New York and consolidate its area headquarters space via a new 200,000-square-foot sublease at the Brewster Building in Long Island City, Queens. The airline will execute an agreement with Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., which holds the original lease on the entire 700,000-square-foot office property.

Also known as 1 MetLife, the Brewster Building was originally developed in 1911. MetLife leased the entire structure in 2001 from owner Brause Realty Inc., which soon after expanded the historic property from 400,000 square feet to 700,000 square feet to further accommodate the insurance company’s needs. MetLife, whose lease of the Brewster Building is scheduled to expire in 2023, continues to occupy a portion of the office facility, while subleasing another segment to financial services firm Barclays.

With the JetBlue deal, the entire property will be fully occupied. For its part, JetBlue will consolidate its current corporate offices in Forest Hills, N.Y., which is just six miles away from the Brewster Building, and Darien, Conn., bringing approximately 1,000 employees under one roof and allowing space for future growth.

JetBlue did quite a bit of shopping around for the best location for its new central corporate office. “JetBlue considered five different cities around the country–Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, Miami, Orlando and New York,” David Brause, president of Brause Realty Inc., told CPE. “It was a major competition. Orlando and New York ended up being the two finalists.” After choosing Metropolitan New York City, the airline looked at Jamaica Plain, Downtown Brooklyn, Midtown Manhattan, as well as Long Island City.

A variety of factors spurred JetBlue’s decision to go with Long Island City and the Brewster Building. “Long Island City is always at a discount to Midtown Manhattan; historically, it has been half the rent of Midtown,” said Brause, who is also Chairman of the Long Island City Business Improvement District. “Additionally, there are seven subway lines right in front of the Brewster Building, which is just one stop from Midtown, and there is a bike lane over the Queensboro Bridge, or the 59th Street Bridge, going to 59th Street in Manhattan.”

The Brewster Building also accommodates the growing yen among businesses for green properties, as it is LEED EB Silver certified. “Adaptive reuse of historic buildings is the best kind of recycling,” Brause said. Also, for JetBlue in particular, there is a certain synergy with the Brewster Building, as the property was once a Brewster Aeronautical Company manufacturing site.

Long Island City appears to be making an increasingly bigger blip on the office market radar. The creative atmosphere in the area, Brause noted, is also a big draw for office leasers. “Silvercup Studios, the film lot where the Sopranos cable series was filmed and where network comedy series 30 Rock is currently filmed, is in Queens, but it’s not just film and television; there are also a lot of artists in the area. There’s so much energy and creativity,” he said.

JetBlue joins a stellar list of businesses that make their home in Long Island City, including Citicorp and, come 2011, the New York City Department of Health, which will occupy the 660,000-square-foot Two Gotham Center, a premier $316 million office tower that is presently being developed by Tishman Speyer. “Businesses are coming to realize that Long Island City is a great place to locate.”

JetBlue will make its move to the Brewster Building by mid-2012.