AT&T; Decides to Remain in the Big Apple

From Times Wire Services

AT&T;, spurning the advances of New Jersey, will keep its corporate worldwide headquarters in Manhattan and retain more than 8,000 jobs in the city through at least 1994.

Under terms of an agreement announced Tuesday between the city and AT&T;, AT&T; will not lease any space in its headquarters at 550 Madison Ave. to other companies; it will limit the number of employees transferred out of the city, and it will maintain a minimum 8,098 jobs in the five boroughs.

The decision came after New York Mayor Edward I. Koch had threatened to "sue the hell out of" AT&T; if it went through with a move, citing $42 million in tax abatements it had given the company in 1978 for locating in Manhattan.

Several other big corporations have announced departures from Manhattan, including Mobil, which said it would move to Fairfax, Va., and J. C. Penney, now packing for a move to Dallas.

Considered Its Roots

The corporation, citing problems brought on by divestiture, had announced plans in April to relocate much of its mid-town Manhattan work force and lease out the space on Madison Avenue.

The agreement runs through the end of current tax abatements granted to the corporation by the city; failure to comply with the agreement could mean forfeiture of abatements totaling about $27.4 million.

"We have opted for ethics over dollars and cents," said AT&T; Vice Chairman Charles Marshall at a City Hall news conference, explaining that the corporation felt its century-old roots in New York City outweighed possible savings offered in New Jersey.

During the course of negotiations, the city introduced a five-year program to reduce energy costs in the city to a level comparable to New Jersey. Deputy Mayor Alair Townsend said that plan figured into AT&T;'s decision to stay.

AT&T; had considered several options for the building, including the leasing of part of it to other companies. Its plan earlier this year was to move up to 1,000 members of its headquarters staff of about 1,300 from its Manhattan building to a suburban complex in Basking Ridge, N.J. It might have brought the company $30 million annually in rentals.

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