Google to spend $2.1B on New York office building

Purchase of St. John's Terminal could be biggest purchase of corporate space since COVID-19 pandemic

Google is exercising an option to purchase St. John's Terminal in New York City for $2.1 billion in what may be the most expensive sale of a single U.S. office building in years. 

The move comes as the tech giant prepares for a future of hybrid work, with approximately 20% of its workforce expected to telecommute permanently. Last month, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said the company would be postponing its voluntary return to the office until Jan. 10. 

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The former freight facility, which is currently leased by Google and located on 550 Washington St., will be the tech giant's largest office outside of California, serving as the anchor of its new, 1.7-million-square foot Hudson Square campus. The New York headquarters will be home to Google's global business organization, which includes its sales and partnership teams. 

The purchase is the most expensive sale of a single U.S. office building since the start of the pandemic, according to the Wall Street Journal, citing data from Real Capital Analytics. 

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The move builds on Google's commitment to invest more $250 million in New York in 2021 and will allow the company to grow its headcount in the city to more than 14,000 employees in the coming years. 

"As Google moves toward a more flexible hybrid approach to work, coming together in person to collaborate and build community will remain an important part of our future. It is why we continue investing in our offices around the world," Alphabet and Google Chief Financial Officer Ruth Porat said in a blog post Tuesday. "We know that like many places around the world, New York has been significantly impacted by the pandemic, and we’re extremely focused on helping local communities, organizations and people emerge stronger from this crisis."

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St. John's Terminal will be reimagined into a "highly sustainable, adaptable and connected building" that features numerous outdoor open spaces, a public food hall, a community space, galleries and the city’s largest public rooftop space, Porat wrote. It will also offer educational and environmental programs run by the Hudson River Park Trust.

As part of the transformation, construction is underway at Pier 57, which is expected to be completed next year. 

The development’s biophilic design will feature numerous outdoor spaces.  (COOKFOX Architects/Google)

The St. John’s Terminal transaction will close in the first quarter of 2022, with the site expected to open by mid-2023.