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NEW YORK CITY-At last week’s B’nai B’rith reception at The Cornell Club, 6 E. 44th St., president of the Alliance for Downtown New York Carl Weisbrod said that half of the commercial businesses Downtown either expect to leave or are undecided about their commitment plans after their current leases expire. Additional research by the Alliance indicates that the 500 retailers who remain closed in Lower Manhattan are not expected to return, and predicts that the Broadway corridor will emerge as the area’s new retail center.

Weisbrod championed transportation as seminal to Lower Manhattan’s recovery, indicating that land beneath the World Trade Center footprints should be incorporated into that plan. “It is very important to use the below-ground area of the footprints for infrastructure purposes, and perhaps other purposes as well,” he said.

By all indications, he said, the behind-the scenes redevelopment process appears to be progressing smoothly. Weisbrod surprisingly told attendees that a commerce and resident consensus has apparently been reached. “Both the residents and businesses feel the same way about how Lower Manhattan should be redeveloped,” he said.

Also touched on was the “white paper draft” of a contingency plan issued by the Federal Reserve Bank, Securities and Exchange Commission and New York State Comptroller’s office, proposing companies secure backup space in the event of another terrorist attack. “Some read this as a call for companies to disaggregate,” said Weisbrod. “This cuts two ways, because Midtown will be the beneficiary of some of this backup space companies may take.” He cited the Bank of New York’s partial move to Brooklyn as an example of the trend to decentralize, calling it “a positive growth for the business interrelationships throughout the boroughs.”

Weisbrod opined that the New York Stock Exchange should be moved into a “new, more modern building,” saying that the exchange should stay in Lower Manhattan, but that he did not support it taking space on the WTC site. The exchange may move farther than Weisbrod considered: regarding the Exchange’s plans, NYSE chairman and CEO Richard Grasso was quoted as last month as saying, “The more we work at it, the more we realize that to do it right, you have to do it at a nuclear distance.”

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