Lower Manhattan: A Whole New World


Before the end of the third quarter of 2013, 4 World Trade Center will be ready for tenants to take possession.

Three to four months after that happens, 1 World Trade Center will be ready. In just the past few weeks, Silverstein Properties reached an agreement with GroupM, a subsidiary of British advertising giant WPP, to occupy some 500,000 square feet of space in the yet-to-be-built 3 World Trade Center.

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With the start of 3 World Trade, the redevelopment of the World Trade Center site will be well on its way to completion. When that building is complete, which should happen in 2016, more than 7.8 million square feet of brand-new office space will exist in a place that for many years seemed stalled.

These building completions will increase the inventory in the Downtown market by more than 10 percent, from roughly 85 million square feet currently to 93.6 million square feet. That will bring the inventory to its highest level since 9/11. In addition, there will be approximately 450,000 square feet of retail space in the transportation hub and the plaza beneath the buildings, which will be connected to the redesigned and re-tenanted retail space at Brookfield Place.

These milestones are certainly important and represent an historic change in the Manhattan office market. But even more important has been the sense of rebirth that these buildings are providing to Downtown and Manhattan as a whole.

For the past dozen years, there has been a hole in the heart of Manhattan, both literally and figuratively. For nearly two years, the World Trade Center Memorial has been open, but the site on which the buildings reside has been closed to visitors. Today and over the next 12 months, the entire area will come back to life as the transportation hub becomes operable and the occupants of 1 and 4 WTC begin to move in and go to work there every day. What has been a loud, cluttered construction site for the past seven or so years is about to become something much more: a symbol of rebirth that will stand for years to come.

Everyone in New York and the Manhattan real estate industry should take a step back, take a deep breath and enjoy this moment. We are back.