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First GE, Now Aetna Says Goodbye to Nutmeg State; Insurer to Move HQ to Chelsea

Aetna wil be occupying 145,000 square feet at 61 Ninth Ave. in late 2018. Aetna wil be occupying 145,000 square feet at 61 Ninth Ave. in late 2018.

NEW YORK CITY—State and city officials announced on Thursday that insurance giant Aetna will relocate its corporate headquarters from Hartford, CT to a Vornado Realty Trust building currently under construction in West Chelsea in Manhattan.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio both announced the 145,000-square-foot deal with Aetna at 61 Ninth Ave. To entice Aetna, New York State and New York City are providing incentives valued at nearly $35 million. Aetna will be occupying all of the available office space at the property.

The insurer’s headquarters move to the 165,000-square-foot property in late 2018 is another black eye to the State of Connecticut and specifically its Governor Dannel Malloy, who last year had to react to GE’s decision to shift its corporate headquarters from Fairfield, CT to the Seaport District in Boston.

Gov. Malloy was quick to point out that only 250 headquarters workers will be involved in the move to the building and that Aetna will continue to employ almost 6,000 workers in the State of Connecticut.

However, Gov. Malloy did say in a prepared statement that Aetna’s move “is an important reminder that to be competitive, Connecticut state government must immediately take the necessary steps to produce a balanced biennial budget with recurring measures to reduce spending and structural solutions to our long-term problems. We must also continue to invest in the revitalization of our cities.”

The 61 Ninth Ave. building is being developed by Vornado Realty Trust and Aurora Capital Associates. The property, adjacent to Apple’s Meatpacking District flagship store on Ninth Ave. and 15th Street, will also be home to Starbucks Roastery & Reserve, which will be occupying approximately 20,000 square feet on the ground floor of the building when it opens in 2018.

Empire State Development has offered the company $24 million in performance-based tax credits over 10 years. Aetna will also receive $9.6 million in incentives from the New York City Economic Development Corp. The city incentives include: $4.25 million in sales tax benefits; New York City Industrial Development Agency property tax benefits valued at $3.8 million over 10 years and enhanced sales tax benefits and a business incentive rate discount valued at $1.5 million over 10 years.

New York State officials say that Aetna will invest $84 million to fit out and equip its new headquarters space at 61 Ninth Ave. They add that prior to reaching its decision to relocate to Manhattan, Aetna had considered a move to a number of other cities.

“New York City is a knowledge economy hub, and a driver of the innovations that will play a significant part in our ongoing transformation,” says Aetna chairman and CEO Mark T. Bertolini. “Many of the roles in our new office will be filled by innovators from the area’s deep talent pool, which will be an invaluable resource as we consider additional investments in the city going forward.”

“New York City is where talent and technology come together,” said Mayor de Blasio of the insurer’s impending move. “We’ve never been stronger, and that’s why companies like Aetna and their employees want to be here. We’re proud to support Aetna’s investment in the city.”

Gov. Cuomo added that Aetna’s move to New York City is another example of the state’s growing momentum. “New York has a deep, diverse talent pool and pro-growth environment that businesses need to succeed, and today more companies are choosing New York to grow and diversify their business,” he said. “By relocating to New York and bringing another 250 jobs to the state, Aetna is sending a clear signal that New York is open for business.”

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