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WHITE PLAINS-A panel of brokers who participated at a Building Owners and Managers Association session on Thursday agree that due to Westchester County’s diverse offerings of large blocks of available office space, the county should land one or possibly more large relocation deals out of New York City.

Jersey City and Stamford, CT have thus far snagged all the major New York City corporate relocation deals stemming from the World Trade Center disaster. However, area brokers note that because New York City, as well as competing markets in New Jersey and Fairfield County, CT, have few if any large blocks of existing office space to offer, Westchester County should prove attractive to companies who are now in the market for space.

Kenneth Krasnow, regional managing director for Cushman & Wakefield of Connecticut, told attendees of the session held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, that demand for office space from New York City firms in Westchester County is “strong.” He adds that there are “10 to 12 large requirements from New York City” currently in the suburban market.

While he questions whether any deals will be generated from the current crop of Manhattan firms that are looking for space in the suburbs, Krasnow relates, “I do think we (the northern New York City suburbs) are going to see more of an impact from New York than we have in the past five to seven years.”

Krasnow notes that most of the firms in the market for space are in the financial services, insurance and banking sectors. He also predicts that most corporate headquarters operations of these firms will remain in Manhattan and that the suburbs will attract back-office and redundancy operations.

Dean Shapiro, executive director of Insignia/ESG’s Westchester/Connecticut operations, predicts “I think we are going to see a couple of pops (large space deals) in Westchester County.” However, with the exception of some large space requirements from New York City-based firms that have mostly come to the market since September 11, Shapiro notes that demand for office space has waned from earlier this year and in 2000 when the Westchester County office market was very active. Shapiro adds that up until now the perception in the brokerage industry has been that more corporate relocation deals from New York City would have been secured by now in the suburbs. He relates, “Clearly there has been more smoke than fire.”

James Fagan, senior managing director for CB Richard Ellis agrees. “There appeared to be a flurry of action right after the World Trade Center attacks. It was fast and furious…” He later adds that the flurry of activity produced few deals for the suburbs. He says, “It’s kind of been a flash in the pan in terms of activity and we are trying to figure out what is real and what is not.” Fagan notes that his firm is trying to discern whether the next wave of activity will be companies migrating to the outlying suburbs, (Westchester, Connecticut, New Jersey and Long Island) or whether the deals will involve companies securing space and remaining in Manhattan.

All three brokers, as well as panel moderator Howard Greenberg, a principal of Howard Properties of White Plains, agree that in the long term Westchester and other suburban markets will benefit from the new corporate policy of diversification of its operations, which will include operating multiple offices. Insignia’s Shapiro says that prior to the September 11 terrorist attacks, some New York City corporations were “on the fence” as to whether their operations needed to be located in Manhattan. “I think the events of Sept. 11 have for many acted as a catalyst to say, “You know what we’re out of here,’” he relates.

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