NEW YORK — Mayor Eric Adams and a top deputy have outfitted offices in a highly secure tower near the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge, availing themselves of a private hideout with sweeping skyline views that’s both minutes and worlds away from the bustle of City Hall.
The yet-unreported workspace is the latest example of the fledgling mayor fiercely guarding his privacy as he acclimates to one of the most public political jobs in America.
Adams and Phil Banks, his deputy mayor for public safety, nestled their offices within 375 Pearl St., a 32-story structure commonly known as the Verizon Building that declares itself “the most secure and resilient building in Manhattan,” according to interviews with 15 people who work in and around city government and are aware of the arrangement. The setup offers them what City Hall cannot: A covert space away from the prying eyes of City Council members, reporters and employees who work in the building and can spot much of the activity within.
The mayor already has a private office in City Hall, as do deputy mayors and a few top staffers. Most other employees either work in the “bullpen,” an open space that Mike Bloomberg instituted after becoming mayor 20 years ago, or offices in the basement.
And while City Hall is open to the public, visitors must enter through a metal detector at an exterior gate and are often asked by the NYPD to provide a rationale for their attendance.
Banks and Adams decided shortly after taking office in January to set up shop in the private building, where the NYPD, Human Resources Administration and finance and sanitation agencies lease space. The mayor occasionally occupies an executive office and conference room previously allotted to the city Department of Finance on the 30th floor of the 300,000-square-foot building.
The tower boasts panoramic views of Manhattan, the New York Harbor and the city’s East River bridges that put landlocked City Hall’s vista to shame.
“I love the water,” Adams said in January about the East River-adjacent mayoral home Gracie Mansion. “You take the water views away, I wouldn’t be in there.”
A spokesperson said he has only been to the site “less than a handful of times” and emphasized its proximity to 1 Police Plaza, given Adams’ focus on reducing crime. The aide did not answer questions about whether the space was renovated once Adams took office and which other staffers have shown up there, but said no one outside city government works from the building.
Those familiar with the arrangement, all of whom would only speak on the condition of anonymity, said the Pearl Street address is Banks’ primary workspace, while Adams occasionally seeks respite there — though his trips to the clandestine office have never appeared on his public schedule.
The secret sanctum also gives Adams and Banks closer access to the NYPD.
The building, which is owned by Sabey Data Center Properties, also has a parking garage, and its website boasts of “controlled street and loading dock access.” The arrangement allows the mayor to slip in unnoticed and head directly to his office, which has floor-to-ceiling windows providing expansive city views.
“It’s hidden away; cars can’t roll through here,” said one person who works in City Hall. Others remarked on his penchant for privacy, which became a flashpoint in the mayoral campaign last year as POLITICO and other outlets dug up details on his unconventional living situation.
Political activity, such as fundraising, is not allowed to take place in government offices, so it’s not uncommon for mayors to seek space away from City Hall to conduct that type of work. In his early days as mayor, Bill de Blasio occasionally carried out political affairs in the offices of his former consulting firm, BerlinRosen.
De Blasio was also known to call donors from his favorite haunt, Brooklyn’s Bar Toto, and often ordered staff to Gracie Mansion, the official residence offered to city mayors, for planning meetings. Ed Koch and Rudy Giuliani at times conducted private government talks in a basement office of City Hall, according to one former administration official. And Bloomberg, a multibillionaire who maintained his own residence as mayor, had ample options for working elsewhere.
But mayors do not typically carve out off-site offices for official business, and Adams already has a stable of venues for politicking, including high-end bars and restaurants where he regularly meets with friends, donors and people who have business interests before his administration.
The Pearl Street edifice, which bears a red and black Verizon logo on its exterior, was built for the New York Telephone Company in 1975. It underwent a renovation in 2016, and its website now describes it as a posh, modern space with premium security.
“Flexible floor plate with endless potential. Unparalleled light and views in all directions. Power for any task,” the site reads. It ends the description inviting potential tenants to “step into the machine. Take control.”
Ironically, when asked on Sunday what he would change about working in City Hall, Adams suggested even closer quarters with the dedicated press corps that operates out of the public building’s “Room 9.” He reasoned that more visibility into his administration might yield better coverage of his achievements on crime-fighting, summer jobs for teens and screening students for dyslexia.
“So I think that if there’s one thing I would change, I would move Room 9 closer to my office,” he said, “so they can see how we’re doing some good stuff.”
On Wednesday, Adams said he had the “brilliant smart idea” of outfitting the office with cubicles for city staffers. He told reporters he’d been there no more than four times and bristled at reporting on his use of the highly secure, private building.
“How can a city location be an undisclosed location?” he said. “That’s just not making any sense.”
Georgia Rosenberg and Julian Shen-Berro contributed to this report.