Five months after deciding to pull out of its heavily-subsidized $2.5 billion-dollar plan to develop a Long Island City campus, Amazon is still on the hunt for Manhattan real estate. According to the Wall Street Journal, the online retailer has been talking to WeWork about leasing the former home of Lord & Taylor.
WeWork acquired the landmark Italian Renaissance building, on Fifth Avenue between 38th and 39th Streets, in 2017 for $800+ million, and Lord & Taylor planned to shrink its presence to two floors. But by mid-2018, the department store decided to close the location.
The Journal reports that Amazon "has held talks with WeWork Cos. to lease as much as the entire 12-story building—big enough to fit several thousand employees... A deal for the e-commerce giant to occupy the iconic retail space would be symbolic. A mainstay of the bustling Fifth Avenue shopping district in Midtown Manhattan, it served as Lord & Taylor’s department store for more than 100 years until earlier this year, when shared office-space company WeWork purchased it. Lord & Taylor has struggled to adapt to a shifting retail climate, while Amazon has commanded a vast share of e-commerce."
This comes two months after rumors that the Seattle-based company was looking at 100,000 square feet near Penn Station, at Manhattan West and the Farley Post Office. The Post's Steve Cuozzo points out, "Still, sources warned that talks [with WeWork] might be used to strengthen Amazon’s hand in negotiations with other landlords as it searches for space."
One source elaborated, "Amazon plays it this close to the vest about real estate. I wouldn’t take anything as true until it happens." Additionally, this could be a piece of news to help boost WeWork's pre-IPO prospects.
Previously, an Amazon spokesperson told us, "We don’t comment on rumors or speculation."
When Amazon announced Long Island City as one of its "HQ2" locations, the company said it would bring 25,000 jobs—but New York State would be offering up to $1.5 billion in subsidies. After criticism and protests about anti-union tactics, Amazon abruptly killed its LIC plans, starting a blame game about who killed the trillion-dollar goose.
Still, New York City is an important location to Amazon, because top talent they want to attract lives here or wants to live here. Currently, Amazon has 5,000 employees in NYC, so it makes sense that they would be in constant communication with real estate executives about how to expand or optimize their current space.
Amazon is also, reportedly, looking for a 1 million-square foot logistics space in Industry City. Industry City had made a pitch to Amazon in the past, offering 5 million square feet.