‘Sad Factor’ Exits Ground Zero—Photographic Evidence of the End of Ennui Downtown


“When you’re alone and life is making you lonely you can always go, downtown,” sang CB Richard Ellis’ managing director Sheldon L. Cohen quietly as people filed into the brokerage’s quarterly press conference this morning.

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“Downtown” was certainly the buzzword of the morning, and the location only echoed that: The press conference’s location was changed late last week from CBRE’s midtown offices to Silverstein Property’s headquarters at 7 World Trade Center.

Eating bagels and sipping coffee, CBRE executives and reporters chatted while looking down upon an army of construction workers starting their morning at ground zero.  The Silverstein offices offered a perfect view of the memorial fountain now located atop the South Tower’s original 1-acre footprint.

Soon after the brief serenade from Mr. Cohen the executives  got down to business.

“Look at those healthy leasing numbers,” said CBRE executive managing director Matt Van Buren, gesturing to a slide showing leasing activity in downtown Manhattan. “This is not your grandfather’s downtown,” added Mr. Cohen. “This is the time that downtown is coming in to its own.”

Condé Nast was the morning’s hot topic. The publishing giant famously leased 1.o5 million square feet earlier this year at 1 World Trade Center, giving a serious lift to the downtown real estate market (CBRE represented the publisher in the deal).

One reporter asked if there was still a “sad factor” downtown because of the September 11 attacks. “We don’t see that anymore,” a CBRE executive chimed in. Tenants, he claimed, are more hopeful than doleful.  “They see what’s going on outside, they look to the future.”

(Post-press conference, we then got a tour of Silverstein’s 4 World Trade Center. See the accompanying slideshow for up-to-date construction pics, plus a full-on shot of that future Condé headquarters.)