Posts Tagged ‘September 11’

New World Trade Center Is Rising From the Ashes

Monday, September 12th, 2011

In the nearly 10 years since the 9/11 tragedy, the site that once seemed impossible to redevelop is very much alive.  The World Trade Center redevelopment and the electrifying changes going on in Downtown New York City — 56,000 new residents (doubled that of before the attacks) and 300 new tenants (since 2005) must be onto something good. The site’s transformation has been “a piece of cake,” quipped Silverstein Properties CEO Larry Silverstein. We’re seeing a quick metamorphosis Downtown, and the impact on values is just beginning, according to Silverstein. “It’s nothing short of extraordinary.” The site will have as much impact (if not more) as Rockefeller Center was to New York City in the 1930s. 

Construction on 1 WTC and 7 WTC is progressing, the latter to be the last of the towers to collapse on 9/11 and the first to be rebuilt.  At 1,776 feet in terms of structural height, with the spire, 1 WTC will be the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, taller than the Willis Tower in Chicago. The structural steel for the 72-floor 4 WTC is currently at 40 stories with completion planned for 2013 and will have 2.3M RSF.  The expected completion dates for all of the WTC properties are: the National September 11 Memorial & Museum this year; 1 WTC, the vehicle security center, and 4 WTC in 2013; the transportation hub in 2014; 3 WTC in 2015; and 2 WTC beyond that.

According to the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, “LMDC is charged with assisting New York City in recovering from the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and ensuring the emergence of Lower Manhattan as a strong and vibrant community. The centerpiece of these efforts is the creation of a permanent Memorial remembering and honoring the thousands of innocent men, women and children lost in the terrorist attacks. The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation was created in the aftermath of September 11, 2001 by then-Governor George Pataki and then-Mayor Rudolph Giuliani to help plan and coordinate the rebuilding and revitalization of Lower Manhattan, defined as everything south of Houston Street.  . LMDC is charged with ensuring Lower Manhattan recovers from the attacks and emerges even better than it was before. The centerpiece of LMDC’s efforts is the creation of a permanent memorial honoring those lost, while affirming the democratic values that came under attack on September 11.”

 Writing on the Plots and Plans website, Carter B. Horsley says that “In the best of all cities, if not worlds, the design for a redeveloped World Trade Center site would include a memorial for the almost three thousand people lost in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that demolished the center’s twin towers, a decked-over West Street to reunite Battery Park City with the rest of Lower Manhattan, an expanded transportation terminal that would better unite Downtown with Midtown and the rest of the Metropolitan region, and a stunning new architectural project that would reassert Manhattan’s international architectural prominence. The redevelopment should also afford the city the opportunity to significantly bolster the downtown community’s cultural assets with the inclusion of some important institutions such as new homes for the Museum of the City of New York and the New York City Opera. Fortunately, the site is large enough to accommodate all of these components as well as meeting the contractual needs of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey to replace the 11 million square feet of commercial and retail space that had existed on the site.”

“After 9/11, we found ourselves with a clear mission to rebuild 7 World Trade Center quickly,” said Robin Panovka, a partner at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen and Katz, who provides legal counsel to Silverstein Properties. “But there were tremendous obstacles in the way, and it’s really how those obstacles were overcome, through cooperation with the Port Authority and the other players, that led to rebuilding of 7 World Trade Center and is now leading to the rebuilding of the larger site where the Twin Towers once stood,” Panovka said. “The result is this beautiful building, 7 World Trade Center, built partly on land the builder didn’t yet own or lease, without customary agreements among the major stakeholders.  It’s that kind of cooperation, vision and guts that led to the success of this building and is fueling the rebuilding of the whole World Trade Center site.” 

As the world’s largest and most complex construction site, the new World Trade Center will be home to a national memorial and museum of emotional and engineering complexity, the nation’s tallest skyscraper, a transportation hub that will serve 250,000 commuters every day, and upscale retail. It will also be home to thousands of workers moving into 10 million SF of new office space.

Whatcha Talkin ‘Bout? Willis?

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

One of Chicago’s most visited real estate icons — and the Western Hemisphere’s tallest building — is getting a new name.  And Chicagoans are not thrilled.gary_coleman1

Under the terms of a significant lease signed by global insurance broker Willis Group Holdings, Ltd., the 110-story, 1,450-foot-tall Sears Tower will change its name to the Willis Tower.

The London-based insurance giant plans to move nearly 500 Chicago-based associates into the trophy building, initially occupying more than 140,000 SF on multiple floors.  Located at 233 South Wacker Drive, the 3.8 million SF Willis Tower was designed by Chicago architects Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.  The Sears Tower has not occupied the building, which was completed in 1973, since its move to Hoffman Estates in 1992.

sears-tower-exterior3At $14.50 PSF, the lease provides a glimpse of how the recession has negatively impacted office rents.  Net rents for existing Class A West Loop space have dropped to about $21 PSF from $25 PSF a year ago.  Sears – uh, Willis — Tower rents tend to be lower because some potential users fear its September 11 factor.  The building’s owner is 233 S. Wacker LLC.  U.S. Equities Asset Management, LLC, provides leasing and management services.

According to an unscientific poll in the Chicago Tribune, 95.7 percent of respondents say they will always call the building the Sears Tower.  Just 4.3 percent plan to use the new name.  Sears may have moved to Hoffman Estates years ago, but it’s still a hometown company.

Fed Chairman Bernanke Takes Steps to Restart the Economy

Friday, November 7th, 2008

Ben Bernanke has spoken.  The Fed chairman and the Federal Reserve moved recently to stimulate the economy when the policy-making committee cut the federal funds rate – the rate at which banks lend to each other – to just one percent.  This represents a half percentage point cut from the previous 1.5 percent rate.  By contrast, during the summer of 2007, this rate was 5.25 percent.

There is more good news.  Treasury rates have stabilized.  The value of the dollar and the yen are soaring.  The price of oil has fallen to less than $70 a barrel.  The New York Stock Exchange rose nearly 900 points in a single day, following the lead of markets ranging from Tokyo to Hong Kong to London.  The inflation rate is just 4.9 percent.  Unemployment is 5.7 percent – a lower proportion than was seen during previous recessions of recent decades.

And, according to NAI Global’s recent Capital Markets Update, the doomsayers who describe the current situation as “the worst economic situation ever” either are very young or have short memories.  The seemingly endless stagflation of 1973 – 1981 was far worse; so was the collapse of the savings-and-loan industry from 1989 – 1993.  The dot.com failure and September 11 wiped out more wealth when compared with the GDP.

Commercial real estate is in far better shape than the early 1990s, thanks to lower vacancy rates, higher rents and shorter construction pipelines.  Delinquency rates are virtually non-existent, though that situation could easily change.  Published in September of 2008, NAI Global’s report projects that recovery will occur within nine to 15 months.