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NEW YORK CITY-Increasing uncertainty regarding real estate decisions and more lease renewals in the short term will be followed by a trend toward multi-site strategies and international dispersal of headquarters, according to a new study on the aftermath of last week’s World Trade Center bombings that puts a price of $10 billion on the attacks.

According to a wide-ranging report released yesterday by real estate investment management firm Jones Lang LaSalle, “The direct losses attributable to real estate alone could range up to $10 billion.” The study estimates the immediate reduction of 25 million sf of office space with the net loss over the next year expected to exceed 20 million sf. It adds that 12.7 million sf of lower-Manhattan property has been destroyed and 2.4 million sf has been damaged or declared structurally unsound. Five million sf of property will be out of commission for a year or more while 5.7 million sf should be ready in less than 12 months, it says.

The study’s long-term outlook suggests less centralization, more multi-premise strategies and an increase in regional or international dispersal of headquarters. In the short term, the report says teleconferencing will partially replace travel, increased security measures will escalate management costs and insurance premiums, and under-development projects will be re-evaluated.

However, Jones Lang managing director, Capital Markets Group, Woody Heller, tells GlobesSt.com that the study’s conclusions eventually will change and mature. Creating back-up data and multiple offices are not new business concepts, he says, but it is going to take time to sort out how recent events will dictate the way this country conducts business on a day-to-day basis.

“People are used to backing things up in multiple places and there’s clearly a concept in place of having people work in different locations,” he says. “But diversification can be quite expensive. The back office going to less expensive places makes sense. But splitting up central head functions, splitting up people who want to be together, that could be problematic. There will be a lot of push and pull with regard to the diversification concept, but it’s too soon to know. It will be tempered somewhat as people calm down, but clearly things will be more diverse than they are today.”

According to the report, Manhattan had a 7.5% vacancy rate or roughly 26 million sf, including both direct and sublease space, prior to the attacks. The firm expects virtually all of the sublease and much of the direct space to be filled within weeks. The downtown office submarket, roughly 40 million sf two weeks ago, has been halved for at least a year, it says. Currently, the Downtown submarket totals roughly 89 million sf and the entire Manhattan submarket stands at approximately 328 million sf, 59% of the metropolitan New York market.

For tenants, Jones Lang sees corporations delaying real estate decisions and forecasts a higher rate of lease renewals as companies hoard capital. Trophy properties are expected to reduce rents and upper floors in tall buildings will become less desirable, according to the report.

Globally, the study is guardedly optimistic. “We predict that the most likely scenario will be back to business with fear and caution,” Jacques N. Gordon, international director and co-chair of global research for Jones Lang LaSalle states. “In particular, we foresee a delay in the U.S. economic recovery of six to nine months, with Q3 and Q4 likely tipping the economy into a short, shallow recession.”

The report does not foresee a flight of companies and capital from central business districts, however, new demand will be stronger in suburban markets than in CBDs. For example, even after many terrorist bombings, the City of London remained a preferred location; however suburban locations were also treated more seriously as occupancy alternatives.

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