Most major businesses displaced following the attack on the WTC made a move to temporary quarters in the New York metropolitan area within five days of the tragedy. Although some financial/brokerage firms moved into high-tech facilities recently vacated by defunct dot-coms, the need for prime office space resulting from the obliteration of millions of square feet of office space and damage to 16.5 million more square feet in lower Manhattan is leading developers to think about restarting dormant projects. About 10 such projects are sited in Midtown and other nearby locations. However, a lot of real estate has been put on the market since September 11, as companies that had considered subletting unneeded space suddenly decided the time was right. According to one industry source who tracks market data, a total of about 850,000 square feet of space in Manhattan was on the market two weeks before the attack. Two weeks afterward, this amount swelled to morel than 6 million square feet.
As far as relocation goes, a number of large banks and brokerage houses are pondering the decision to concentrate all their operations in one location again. Some construction projects currently being considered in Manhattan and other boroughs would give large firms an opportunity to diversify their operations at a number of interrelated sites, yet keep their people in the city.
Nonetheless, Jim Usher, vice-president of communications for E-J Electric Installation Co., a Long Island City, N.Y.-based electrical contracting firm that maintained the World Trade Center’s security system, would like to see the towers rebuilt as a symbol of resolve against terrorism. “Security, however will never be the same,” says Usher. “I think that the security issue throughout the world has already changed and is going to continue to change.”