Downtown Heavy Hitters Dish at CO Forum


Co Breakfast Panel
The Owners Magazine breakfast panel at 7 WTC. (RONALD RIQUEROS/

Silverstein Properties Chairman Larry Silverstein, CBRE New York tri-state CEO Mary Ann Tighe and the rest of the panel featuring five of Lower Manhattan’s top developers, brokers and tenants shared their assessments of the World Trade Center area’s progress at Commercial Observer’s Owners Magazine breakfast panel yesterday morning at 7 World Trade Center.

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Jonathan Mechanic of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson‘s real estate department moderated the discussion and Brookfield Property Partners CEO Dennis Friedrich and ad agency vice chairman Andrew Essex of Droga5 also contributed their own upbeat takes on downtown on the week that 1 WTC anchor tenant Condé Nast began occupying the building.

Before the crowd of over 200 real estate movers and shakers, Mr. Essex touted the area’s architecture, competitive rents and proximity to Brooklyn; Mr. Friedrich pointed to the cascade of new dining options at Brookfield Place. The Trade Center site is turning a corner in its transition from the days following the attacks of Sept. 11, the panelists agreed.

Commercial Observer Breakfast Panel
The event drew over 200 attendees. (Michael Hicks)

“It was not a very good time,” Mr. Silverstein said of the departure of residents and tenants from the area after the tragedy. “Government functioned very responsibly shortly thereafter, providing rental incentives to come on back. Once we built 7 World Trade Center, people realized, ‘Something is going to happen here.’”

cleardot Downtown Heavy Hitters Dish at CO ForumA “six-figure” incentive helped the ad agency with the decision to relocate to Silverstein’s building at 120 Wall Street from Midtown last year, Mr. Essex noted. Mr. Silverstein and the other speakers reeled off statistics showing the neighborhood’s appeal, such as the 3 million square feet of leases Mr. Friedrich says Brookfield has booked for Brookfield Place in the past year.

The area is starting to gain interest from potential tenants and residents who haven’t looked closely at Lower Manhattan for years, Ms. Tighe said.

“What I think is going to compel the attraction to downtown is the continued exposure,” she said, recalling a recent drive to the Trade Center site with prospective tenants. “I asked them as we were coming downtown when was the last time they had been below Chambers Street. The answer I got was ten years.”

Commercial Observer Breakfast Panel
The panelists pose after the event. (Michael Hicks)