Lower Manhattan's impressive recovery

A little more than a year ago, in the wake of the costliest storm to ever hit the City, there was once again a great deal of concern about the future of Lower Manhattan.  There were many who talked about the serious problems that the area faced and questioned if it could come back.  It was not the first time we heard such predictions.

In the 1990’s, and especially in 2001, Downtown was thought to have had its best days behind it.  However, for a third time, the partnership between the private sector and Government proved that Lower Manhattan’s future was bright and exciting.

This success can be directly traced back to the efforts of the Downtown Alliance, and in particular Liz Berger’s leadership and determination.  For almost two decades, the Alliance has facilitated and guided the evolution of one of the world’s most important and iconic districts.  Their work is largely responsible for the area’s recent shift towards offering a dynamic 24-hour multi-use community. 

Liz led the Alliance with a love for the place that she called home for 30 years, and her dedication was never more evident than in the months following Superstorm Sandy.  I know she would be proud of the achievements made in 2013 and the progress made towards Lower Manhattan’s continued transformation to a contemporary mixed-use business district with all the required services and amenities.  In light of the naysayers, I would like to mention some of Downtown’s recent progress.

Silverstein Properties broke ground on its 82-story mixed-use development at 30 Park Place, bringing luxury condominiums and a Four Seasons Hotel, one of 11 hotels totaling over 2,000 rooms currently in construction in the area.  They also opened their 72-story 4 World Trade Center on the corner of Liberty and the newly restored Greenwich Street.

Down the street, after 30 years, Time Equities began construction of 50 West Street, a 700 foot mixed-use tower.  195 Broadway, a wonderful landmark, was sold to institutional investors.  Additionally, St. John's University sold 101 Murray for $233 million, equaling $600 per buildable square foot, to the Witkoff Group, the Victor Group, and Fisher Brothers.  Macklowe Properties purchased 156 William Street, the third William Street sale this quarter.

Next year, Brookfield will unveil 200,000 square feet of upgraded retail space at Brookfield Place, formerly known as the World Financial Center.  The Howard Hughes Corporation began redeveloping Pier 17, while on the residential side, Adam Rose announced his plans to turn the landmarked 70 Pine Street into luxury rental apartments.  Hines and the Alexico Group began construction on 56 Leonard, a 60-story residential building, and Fisher Brothers also released the first renderings of 22 Thames Street, which may become the tallest residential skyscraper in the area.

Lower Manhattan will also see several meaningful improvements to its transportation infrastructure in the coming years.  Next June, the MTA is scheduled to complete their $1.4 billion Fulton Center, which will connect eleven subway lines, and eventually PATH trains.  Governor Christie announced his support for an extension of PATH lines to Newark Airport as well. 

Finally, One World Trade Center now stands not only as the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, but as a symbol of what is the spirit of America.

As with any great city, our work is never done.  In 2014 together we must convince the State Legislature to adopt Speaker Silver’s renewal of the Lower Manhattan incentives, some which have already expired, and some need to be extended so that future tenants will know the benefits will still be available when they are ready to take occupancy.

Lower Manhattan stands tall, just as tall as the magnificent new towers that rise to tell all, that the greatest City in the world started right here in these wonderful narrow streets and that its amazing history is still being written. 

In other REBNY News:

REBNY’s Commercial Brokerage Division is pleased to announce the results of their 2013 Annual Elections.  Brian Ezratty, of Eastern Consolidated, Ira Z. Fishman, of Evo Real Estate Group, Andrew D. Levin, of Boston Properties, Eric Meyer, of Colliers International, John V. Wheeler Jr., of JLL, and newly appointed Co-Chair James Nelson, of Massey Knakal Realty Services, will join the Commercial Board of Directors.  REBNY congratulates all of the newly elected Board members! 

REBNY will host its 118th Annual Banquet on Thursday, January 16th at 7pm at the New York Hilton.  Join us for the event of the year as we honor six great New Yorkers: Stephen L. Green of SL Green Properties, Kenneth Fisher of Fisher Brothers, Joel I. Picket of Gotham Organization, Robin Abrams of The Lansco Corporation, Thomas L. Hill of Boston Properties, and Robert C. Fink of the Winter Organization.  For tickets or advertising information, contact Maryann Aviles at maviles@rebny.com.