The 18 acres of prime real estate located along the East River that serves as the headquarters of the United Nations (U.N.) is unlike other property in New York City. What makes it unique is its status as international territory belonging to the 193 nations that are members of the U.N.
Playing host to an international organization where people from all over the world must be free to travel and move about freely has not been an easy task for government officials in New York City and New York State. During his tenure as a member of the board of directors of the United Nations Development Corporation, William Mulrow learned first-hand of how complex a simple transaction such as leasing office space becomes when it involves the U.N. or its member states.
Because of its international territory status, the U.N. operates beyond the controls of its host nation, but the real estate needs of the organization and its members far exceed the space available at its 18-acre riverside site. Unlike other organizations that lease office space or other forms of real estate, the U.N. requires full control over the offices and buildings it leases, but it still needs the police, fire and other services from local governments that other tenants receive. Providing the services to an international organization operating within the United States forced the state of New York to create a new agency.
New York created the United Nations Development Corporation to develop and manage real estate in a special development district created under state law that is located in the vicinity of the headquarters of the U.N. The corporation works to meet and satisfy the needs of the U.N., its member nations and city, state and local governments. One of the first things the corporation did was to reach an agreement with the U.N. in which the international organization agreed to comply with federal, state and local laws with regard to its occupancy of real estate in the special district.
A major project undertaken by the United Nations Development Corporation involved the development of three office buildings and a new office tower on First Avenue and 41 Street in New York City to be occupied by UNICEF and other U.N. agencies. The completed complex will include a hotel, restaurants and a health club. Development of the new facilities allows the U.N. to consolidate operations that are spread out throughout the development district into a single building. New York City benefits by the increased rents it can charge the U.N. in municipality-owned buildings located within the district.
The innovative development undertaken by the United Nations Development Corporation is indicative of the type of leadership for which William Mulrow is known. Whether in the private sector or serving on the board of a public agency, Mulrow looks beyond problems to find a solution.