Merrill Lynch in Talks to Move HQ to WTC: Report

As one financial services giant indicates it may step away from New York’s World Trade Center redevelopment, another moves toward possibly taking space in the massive rebuilding project. Merrill Lynch & Co., according to a Wall Street Journal report based on unnamed sources, has re-entered talks regarding moving its headquarters to the planned Tower 3 at the WTC. Merrill Lynch’s current HQ is in the World Financial Center, across West Street from the WTC site. The Journal reported that the board of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the site, is expected to discuss the Merrill Lynch matter today and could authorize a hiatus in construction to permit the company’s design needs (for large trading floors, for example) to be addressed. CPN reported last week that JPMorgan Chase appeared to be backing away from plans to build a $2 billion, 1.3 million-square-foot building, Tower 5, at the WTC site. JPMorgan Chase’s apparent change of plans is assumed to be related to its acquisition of Bear Stearns. Ray Cirz, managing director of Integra Realty Resources’ New York City office, told CPN that although demand for office space is strong overall in Lower Manhattan, the new WTC has not been generating much interest among potential occupants: “Privately, people have concerns, security concerns, about moving there … It’s a touchy subject.” Cirz, who appraised the pre-9/11 WTC several times, added that he has heard such comments from representatives of major corporations that are “significant users of space.”