March 30th - April 5th, 2007
Desire for Larger Trading Floors Fuels Office-Market Frenzy
April 2nd: With construction of a new building featuring six huge state-of-the-art trading floors underway at West and Vesey Streets, investment firm Goldman Sachs has spurred an "arms race of sorts" among Wall Street firms looking to secure new, larger facilities of their own, the Wall Street Journal reported. The vacancy rate for Manhattan office space has dropped to roughly 7 percent partly as a result, making the market as tight as it has been in years.
Trading-floor envy is only part of the force driving demand. There is also a true need for larger spaces. A recent boom in debt and equity markets has spurred many investment firms to hire more traders. Each trader may have several computer screens showing prices, charts, news, and other market data, which then require space to accommodate all the wiring as well as backup power sources. Finally, high ceilings are necessary to help spread out the noise created by hundreds of simultaneous conversations on the floors.
Among the firms seeking larger spaces are Merrill Lynch & Co. and J.P. Morgan Chase, both of which are considering space at the new World Trade Center site, according to the Journal.
Chinese Realty Firm Considers Freedom Tower Top Floors
April 4th: Beijing Vantone, the Chinese real estate development firm that has twice walked away from signed leases downtown, has reiterated its goal of establishing its China Center New York in Lower Manhattan and is in preliminary talks with the Port Authority about leasing 400,000 square feet on the Freedom Tower's highest floors, the New York Post reported.
The company has pulled out from two deals to lease downtown space for the center, intended to serve as a hub for Chinese firms developing U.S. operations -- one last summer for 200,000 square feet in 7 World Trade Center and another last month for 120,000 square feet in 195 Broadway. In each instance, Vantone failed to deliver a required letter of credit.
"Our reputation has been hurt," China Center New York Executive Director Xue Ya acknowledged to the Post about the earlier deals, but she pleaded for understanding and insisted the company acted in good faith.
Vantone has wanted to be in the Freedom Tower from the start and turned to 7 WTC and 195 Broadway only when its timetable became unpredictable, according to the paper. Asked if Governor Eliot Spitzer's decision to back the Freedom Tower contributed to the pullout from the 195 Broadway deal, Ya said, "I think a very minor part," but then went on to deny knowing about Spitzer's intentions until it was reported in the papers, a day after the broken lease.
Silver Opposes Proposed Move of WTC Survivors Staircase
April 4th: Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is opposing a decision reportedly reached by the Empire State Development Corporation and Port Authority Saturday to move the WTC Survivors Staircase Zero to a site in Battery Park City favored for a new school, the Daily News reported.
"It's not the right decision," Silver told the News. "We are constantly encouraging residential development downtown, but the schools are seriously overcrowded," he said.
Empire State Development President Avi Schick told the News, "The school is our highest priority and we will not permit the storage to interfere or impede the progress of the school." Schick insisted that the state has yet to reach a decision on a temporary site for the staircase, which many used on 9/11 to get to safety, and is working to allow for a more substantial portion to be displayed at Ground Zero in the future.
Two Additional 9/11 Victims Identified, One a Firefighter
April 5th: The Associated Press reported that one of two September 11th victims identified in the past week using advanced DNA technology was a firefighter whose remains were recovered from the World Trade Center site in 2001, according to a letter sent by the Fire Department.
The letter, which was sent last week to the families of the 128 firefighters whose remains were never identified, stressed that the identification was not related to the recent discovery of remains from Ground Zero and surrounding areas.
The Associated Press first reported the new identifications on Tuesday but did not release the names of the victims, indicating that the family of one has asked not to make that name public and the second has not decided whether to release the name. The Fire Department reiterated that the family did not what the firefighter's name to be made public.
The new identifications bring the number of victims yet to be positively identified to 1,146. "Hopefully there will be more to come," said Ellen Borakove, spokeswoman for the Chief Medical Examiner.