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NEW YORK CITY-Industry experts across the board agree that the World Trade Center bombings sucker-punched the city’s real estate community. But they differ as to the tragedy’s long-term effects. As Q4 winds down, GlobeSt.com spoke with three prominent analysts to find out how the bombings are affecting the various New York markets

In a recent report from international ratings agency Fitch, senior director Diane Lans and managing director Zayne Lynn conclude that New York real estate will continue to be affected by the Sept. 11 bombings for several years. In an interview with GlobeSt.com, Lans and Lynn both cite the bombings’ psychological impact as the driving force behind the industry’s hoped-for economic recovery.

“Yes, the economy was already in a slide,” Lans tells GlobeSt.com. “But I think the events of Sept. 11 exacerbated the downturn that was already there.”

“I believe we were already in an economic downturn pre-Sept. 11 and that this has accelerated it,” Concurs Lynn. “I think that if Sept. 11 hadn’t happened we wouldn’t fall as far as we’re going to fall, but we were definitely on a down trend.”

But Lans goes on to say that the Sept. 11-effect on real estate is dwindling as apprehension subsides and the city recaptures some trappings of normalcy. “Do people still fear domestic terrorism? The fear is still there but it has paled considerably from September and October,” Lans tells GlobeSt.com. “Americans have short-term memories and because there hasn’t been another incident people are beginning to view Sept. 11 as an isolated event. However, if there was to be another event on domestic soil it would affect the national economy. The terrorism of Sept. 11 still does factor into the equation for New York City and the surrounding areas.”

Lynn says there are too many variables in the marketplace right now to judge if and how much Sept. 11 will continue to impact New York real estate. “There are a lot of factors in play,” Lynn says. “In the short term, Sept. 11 is going to affect New York City pretty hard because you’ve lost a lot of tourism business combined with the shrinking of the financial services industry. And companies aren’t in an expansion mode. How much relief is Washington going to send? It’s difficult to say. We also have a change in government. So, there’s a lot of unknowns we’ve got to deal with.”

But variables notwithstanding, Lans says the destruction of the twin towers, though not as close to the surface as it was three months ago, continues to factor into leasing and buying plans. “When people are making decisions about where they’re going to live or where they’re going to work, or if I’m an employer deciding where I’m going to renew my office lease, Sept. 11 is still in the equation and will be for the near term. But once the site is cleaned up and there is building going on there, then I think new Yorkers and people in the greater New York area will be able to move past Sept. 11.”

Paula Forys, assistant director of New York research for Cushman & Wakefield, says that while Downtown continues to suffer direct impact from the attacks, areas farther uptown are reacting more to the economy than to Sept. 11.-related issues. “Right now, especially in Midtown and Midtown South, it’s definitely the economy that’s playing more of a role in the real estate markets,” Forys says. “Downtown is a different story because it’s still being affected by the attacks. But for the most part, we’re dealing with the economy more than the effects of the attacks. We’re reading about layoffs every day that have no direct cause-and-effect relationship with the attacks.”

And it is the economy, not the bombings, that is stalling real estate decisions, Forys says. “People want to know “how this recession is going to affect my bottom line and do I want to wait before I make any occupancy strategies.’”

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