Long Island City may be booming (or so the new developments seem to indicate), but one big company is moving out. MetLife is readying a move to Midtown. The NY Times's article outlines how MetLife went to Queens in the first place: $26.4 million in tax breaks from the Giuliani administration. However, MetLife claims it needs a "Manhattan presence" these days (oh, snap!). There's an interesting quote from the Center for an Urban Future's Jonathan Bowles:
“MetLife’s decision to move back to Manhattan highlights the ineffectiveness of giving away multimillions in tax incentives to individual firms. It seems like the city always gets burned in the end. MetLife is certainly entitled to move back to Manhattan if that will help them be more competitive in attracting and retaining employees, but the company shouldn’t be allowed to use city subsidies to do so.”
The NY Times reports that the city could demand MetLife "repay two times the roughly $12 million in incentives it has used up to now," but the city doesn't want to rock the boat too much, since MetLife is leaving some employees in LIC (the left behind?). Oh, and MetLife's move to much higher rents was probably spurred by senior executive complaints about the "lack of good restaurants," and being "too far from Midtown" (we bet the senior guys don't take the subway), not to mention prisoners from Rikers being released a few blocks away. Yeah, that could be a problem for other future tenants as well.
Here's a 2001 Real Estate Weekly article about MetLife moving to Long Island City.