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Google to buy office building in New York for $2.1 billion

The firm says extension of New York campus an "important part" of meeting firm's racial equity commitments to increase diversity

Google has announced plans to buy the St John's Terminus building in New York's Manhattan borough for $2.1 billion (£1.5 billion). 

The purchase is the most expensive for a single US office building since the pandemic began and will form part of the tech giant's sweeping campus development in the area. 

St John's Terminal was built in 1934, originally as a terminus for the New York Central Railroad, but it underwent an extensive redevelopment in 2018. Around the site, Google has been building its "Google Hudson Square" campus, with a plan to add St John's as an 'anchor' for the entire campus. 

New York is now Google's second-largest hub of office employees with only the Mountain View site in California housing more. The tech giant had begun to lease out completed parts of the New York campus, but no one has moved in as yet due to the ongoing spread of COVID.

"Google has been fortunate to call New York City home for more than 20 years, during which time we have grown to 12,000 employees," Google CFO Ruth Porat wrote in a blog post. "New York's vitality, creativity and world-class talent are what keep us rooted here. It is why we're announcing today that we are deepening our commitment to New York and intend to purchase the St. John's Terminal in Manhattan for $2.1 billion, which will serve as the anchor of our new Hudson Square campus. 

Google's plans for the St John's Terminal office

"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. Our decision to exercise our option to purchase St. John's Terminal further builds upon our existing plans to invest more than $250 million this year in our New York campus presence. It is also an important part of meeting our previously announced racial equity commitments, which include continuing to grow our workforce in diverse communities like New York."

The move is very much in line with other Google projects, such as the so-called 'landscaper' office building currently under development in London's King's Cross, but it doesn't necessarily fit in with the rest of the tech industry.

Companies like Salesforce and Dropbox, for instance, have made changes to their existing office space to accommodate hybrid work, such as reducing desks and creating 'collaborative' areas. 

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