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Interactive expansion eyes Chelsea locale

NEW YORK — Barry Diller’s Interactive Corp. is eyeing new downtown digs for its booming e-commerce kingdom.

Diller has applied for some $80 million worth of so-called “Liberty Bonds” to help fund a Gotham headquarters building on the west side of Manhattan in Chelsea. Sources say architect Frank Gehry, who is believed to be huddling with the Interactive chairman and CEO over prospects for revitalizing and expanding Interactive’s office space on Sunset Boulevard in West Hollywood, is also sketching out ideas for a New York HQ.

New York’s Economic Development Corp. will review Interactive’s application for the tax-free financing Oct. 14, and determine the extent to which the company also qualifies for additional sales and real estate tax exemptions.

Diller’s ever-expanding portfolio of e-commerce companies is currently based out of West 57th street next to Carnegie Hall.

Michael Sherman, spokesman for the New York Economic Development Corp., confirmed that Diller wants to build a facility at 18th Street at 11th Avenue to consolidate some 250 Gotham-based employees. Interactive told the econ org that it expects to triple in size over the next two years. “The company is an important player in this media and technology industry and we wanted to support their growth in an up and coming neighborhood,” said Sherman, who said the project is moving ahead to preliminary approval, although final authorization to float the bonds to investors is still several months away.

Also a big inducement for securing the tax-efficient funding and other breaks is the expectation that Gehry will be the designer. The famed architect was due to design a new Guggenheim Museum along the East River, but the group failed to raise the necessary funds.

New York Liberty Bonds are tax-exempt private bonds available for the construction and renovation of commercial and residential facilities, primarily in downtown Gotham.

The bonds were created as part of federal government assistance to revitalize Lower Manhattan after 9/11. Though Interactive’s target site on West 18th Street is outside the so-called “Liberty Zone” (south of Canal Street), some $2 billion of the $8 billion allocated to the program is available for commercial projects in other New York neighborhoods.

Interactive has spent more than $8 billion over the last year and a half amassing a collection of Internet retail properties such as Expedia, Lending Tree, Hotels.com and Ticketmaster.

A company rep on Friday declined to comment on reports of either capital building project, adding that “nothing has been finalized in any area.”

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