March 4th - March 10th, 2005
Demand for Downtown Office Space Continues to Grow
Friday, March 4: Lower Manhattan's vacancy rate for class A office space continued to fall in February, registering at 13.2 percent and signaling continued economic growth downtown, Dow Jones reported.
The drop in vacant space -- a slight decrease from January's 13.4 percent and the 13.8 percent recorded a year earlier -- is attributed to Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson's renewal and expansion of a lease at 1 New York Plaza -- the largest real estate deal of the month. The law firm is also considering the possibility of moving to 7 World Trade Center once it is completed, according to Dow Jones.
Robert Sammons, director of research at Colliers, a commercial real estate services firm, expects downtown rents to rise from 4 percent to 5 percent in 2005, due to renewed interest in the area, Dow Jones said.
Vacancy rates for class A office space also fell throughout Manhattan for the fourth month in a row. In February, citywide rates dropped to 9.4 percent from 9.6 percent in January, steadily approaching a low of 9 percent not seen since April 2002, Dow Jones noted.
90 West Street Reopens for Business
Monday, March 7: After sustaining extensive damages on September 11, 2001, from the collapse of nearby 2 World Trade Center, 90 West Street opened its apartment rental office on Monday -- a sign that the building's restoration is nearing completion, Newsday reported.
A former office building designed by architect Cass Gilbert, 90 West Street is in the final stages of a $148 million renovation project that seeks to restore much of the 1907 neo-Gothic structure and convert it into an apartment building. Tenants are expected to begin moving into the building's 410 rental units by May 1, and full occupancy is expected by late July, Newsday said.
As part of the renovation project, the building will feature a new $4 million, 45-foot mansard roof, a $5 million, three-story granite base, and $11 million worth of new terra cotta tile and decorations -- including the replacement of more than 100 gargoyles, the paper said.
For more than two years, 90 West Street remained blanketed under a 23-story construction veil supported by scaffolding. Just last year, developers were granted $106.5 million in tax-exempt Liberty Bonds and other financing from the New York City Housing Development Corporation to restore the building. Additional funding for the project was provided by the reconstruction partners themselves, including Brack Capital Real Estate, the Kibel Companies, and hoteliers Richard Born and Ira Drukier, the New York Times reported last week.
Citys 9/11 Liability Risk Drops
Tuesday, March 8: New York City's liability risk from lawsuits over the World Trade Center attacks on September 11, 2001, has decreased to $1.3 billion -- a dramatic drop from the original estimate of $9 billion -- due largely to assistance provided by the federal September 11th Victim Compensation Fund, the Daily News reported.
The fund, which officially closed in June 2004 after nearly three years of operation, compensated the families of more than 5,000 9/11 victims with a collective total nearing $7 billion. To be eligible for the fund, applicants agreed to drop any lawsuits against the airlines or governmental agencies, causing the majority of claims against New York City to decrease, the News said.
There remain 176 pending personal-injury lawsuits relating to the 9/11 attacks against the city -- the majority of which were filed by firefighters and other emergency personnel who participated in rescue and recovery operations at Ground Zero, the paper noted.
Tribeca Film Festival Readies for Its Fourth Year
Tuesday, March 8: Tribeca Film Festival founders Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal, and Craig Hatkoff joined festival executive director Peter Scarlet to announce the expanded program and dates for the 2005 Tribeca Film Festival.
The festival, now in its fourth year, will kick off on April 19 and will showcase more than 250 features, documentaries, and short films in locations throughout Lower Manhattan before its close on May 1. The event will also feature a full range of offerings, including gala premieres, independent films, panels, free community events, and a Family Festival.
Among the highlights included in this year's festival are the world premiere of Sydney Pollacks's The Interpreter, starring Sean Penn and Nicole Kidman, and a short film competition in collaboration with Amazon.com.
The competition allows amateur filmmakers to submit films for the chance to win a $50,000 grant and have their projects screened at a downtown theater. Films, which must be between two and seven minutes in length and appropriate for PG-13 audiences, can be submitted through the Amazon.com website through April 13, after which online customers will view and rate them. At the end of May, the five highest rated films will be featured on the website, and customers will then select a winner.
The Tribeca Film Festival was created by Tribeca Film Institute founders Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal, and Craig Hatkoff in response to the 9/11 attacks and seeks to foster the economic and cultural growth of Lower Manhattan. For more information about the 2005 Tribeca Film Festival, including schedule information and details on how to get tickets, visit www.tribecafilmfestival.org.
SEC Relocating to World Financial Center
Wednesday, March 9: The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced its plans to relocate its New York offices, currently located in downtown's Woolworth Building, to the World Financial Center, Bloomberg News reported.
The agency is scheduled to sign a lease for 225,000 square feet of office space at 3 World Financial Center later this week and plans to move to the facility in April. The director of SEC's New York office, Mark Schonfeld, notified employees about the decision on Tuesday, March 8, Bloomberg said.
Formerly located at 7 World Trade Center, the SEC was forced to relocate its offices to the Woolworth Building at 233 Broadway after 7 WTC collapsed during the 9/11 attacks. While the commission had originally planned to return to 7 WTC once it was rebuilt, increased rental fees and expenses at the new site caused the agency to relocate to 3 World Financial, Bloomberg explained.
The SEC's150,000-square-foot space at the Woolworth Building will soon be occupied by another government agency, which frees the SEC from its 10-year lease, Bloomberg added.