Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

New York Is Still Struggling with Storm Damage ; Financial District Tenants Who Have Moved Weigh Whether They Will Return

Newspaper article International Herald Tribune

New York Is Still Struggling with Storm Damage ; Financial District Tenants Who Have Moved Weigh Whether They Will Return

Article excerpt

Dozens of office buildings that were flooded still lack power and are off limits to tenants, and many streets are a chaotic mess of generators, work crews and pumps.

More than two weeks after Hurricane Sandy moved ashore in New York City sending a surge of seawater over much of the southern tip of the island of Manhattan, the financial district is still in tatters.

Dozens of office buildings that were flooded by the surge still lack power and are off-limits to tenants, and many streets are a chaotic mess of generators, work crews and pumps.

Still trying to gauge the extent of the damage, many landlords have been vague about when their buildings will reopen. And some tenants, who have been uprooted to tiny conference rooms in New Jersey or industrial spaces in the Brooklyn area of the city, are weighing whether to return to the neighborhood at all.

But despite the uncertainty and destruction, many analysts do not expect the bulk of tenants to pack up and leave for good, nor do they think that future tenants will rule out the neighborhood over fears they might get flooded.

"I don't think it will become an overriding factor in the location decision," said John Wheeler, the head downtown broker for Jones Lang LaSalle, echoing other top brokers. "I guess time will tell if I'm being too sanguine about this."

Brokers add that the neighborhood remains a compelling place to locate a business. Even with some train lines hampered by storm damage, it is still amply served by mass transit, with ferry service and more than a dozen subway lines. The new apartments and condos built in recent years, along with new boutiques and restaurants, also mean that many people can now live a few blocks from their office.

Besides, rents are notably competitive with other business districts in Manhattan, at $40 a square foot, or about $360 a square meter, in the financial district, compared with $65 a square foot in Midtown, according to Cassidy Turley, the brokerage firm, though the downtown figure is expected to climb when the two new World Trade Center buildings open.

Complicating the prognosis about the neighborhood's long-term health is that determining the extent of damage has been tricky. …

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