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Citigroup to expand office space in Long Island City

The $200 million project should foster the neighborhood's transformation into one of New York City's fastest growing business districts, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.

"From the start our administration has followed an economic development strategy designed to create jobs throughout the five boroughs," Bloomberg said. "Citygroup's latest expansion to Long Island City does just that."

He said the financial services company decided to expand in the area on its own, with no tax incentives from the city.

In addition to the 475,000-square-foot building, the company will construct an underground escalator between the nearby G and 7 subway lines, improving the connection between the two lines, said Citigroup Chief Executive Officer Charles Prince.

Citigroup is a global company, offering banking, credit cards, loans and insurance. It opened business in Long Island City in 1989, when it completed a 48-story skyscraper on Court Square housing 4,800 employees.

Prince said the company should break ground in 2005 on the new facility and hopes to occupy the building by the end of 2006 or early 2007.

The new office, which is being designed by Manhattan-based Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, will accommodate management workers, Prince said.

When it is completed, Citigroup will have a total of 6,300 workers in Queens. The mayor said it already is the largest private sector employer in the borough.

Queens officials praised the expansion.

"Long Island City is truly coming into its own and we are - by the way - going to give New Jersey a run for their money," said Queens Borough President Helen Marshal, referring to the rivalry between the state to the south and the neighborhood to draw financial jobs from Lower Manhattan.

"I don't think any mayor has come to Queens with as much good news as Mayor Bloomberg," said state Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan (D-Ridgewood.)

With the recent completion of the MetLife insurance headquarters in Bridge Plaza Tech Center at nearby Queens Plaza, the Citigroup expansion means the neighborhood is well on its way to becoming one of the city's major business districts, said City Councilman Eric Gioia (D-Sunnyside)

Reach reporter Matthew Monks by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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