MasterCard International is trading in its big-city address for a sprawling 47-acre property in the suburbs.
Last year, the New York City-based association announced that it would move the majority of its 575 employees out of Manhattan, but keep 100 of its top executives in the city.
"One of the thoughts was that the chief executive and senior executives would be more accessible to members around the world who visit the city," said F. David Brangaccio, senior vice president for administrative services, who is in charge of facilitating the move.
Instead, MasterCard is rolling the dice in moving all of the employees in its corporate headquarters to Purchase, N.Y., a suburb in Westchester County, which is 27 miles outside of the city.
MasterCard had signed a 20-year contract to lease a smaller space in Manhattan at 1345 Avenue of the Americas. But the association absolved itself of its obligation, and by the end of this year the new facility, which was the former North American headquarters for IBM, will become MasterCard's official residence.
Mr. Brangaccio said that MasterCard reversed its decision for a number of reasons.
The association expects to save $250 million with a new lease.
First-class office space in Manhattan, Mr. Brangaccio explained, goes for about $30 a square foot, compared with $18 to $21 in Westchester. MasterCard was committed to a 450,000-square-foot space in the Manhattan building, and the Purchase facility is 433,000 square feet.
The new 20-year lease in Purchase gives MasterCard the option to buy the property.
Another reason for moving all employees, said Mr. Brangaccio, is that it would be "disruptive to split up the staff."
MasterCard solicted the opinions of its employees, who said communications between different parts of the company would suffer if some people remained in the city.
At one point the association also considered relocating 100 of its employees to St. Louis, where MasterCard's operations center is located, but that plan was also scrapped.
MasterCard expects its corporate headquarters to swell to about 650 employees by the time the move is completed.
The association also believes that it might lose about 15% of its employees, but it will replace those people who don't want to stay with the company after the move with residents of Connecticut and Westchester.
On Jan. 2, MasterCard was joined by its rival, Visa, which opened a sales office in New York City.
Visa also plans to open up satellite sales and service offices in in Atlanta and Chicago early in the year.
MasterCard has had similar-functioning offices in those cities for several years, in addition to about six other offices scattered around the country.
"It remains to be seen whether we will keep a small facility in New York City with two or three meeting offices and a conference room," said Mr. Brangaccio. "We are going to see if that is necessary."
In the meantime, MasterCard maintains that its future digs are centrally located near major airports and other forms of transportation, enabling members to easily visit the association.