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NEW YORK CITY-The city and real estate insiders alike are pleased with the progress of the redevelopment efforts in Lower Manhattan, with not only an agreed upon plan for redevelopment but for transportation as well.

“The progress to date has actually been extraordinary,” commented Daniel Doctoroff, Deputy Mayor for Economic Development and Rebuilding. He addressed the issue of redeveloping Lower Manhattan at the Bank of America Securities’ NYC Office Conference here on Tuesday.

So far the redevelopment process has been complicated by legal issues, according to Doctoroff. First is the relationship between developer Larry Silverstein–who leased the World Trade Center from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey–and his insurers over the question of whether the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 were one occurrence or two. Second is the struggle between Deutsche Bank and its insurance companies over payment for the bank’s office building at 130 Liberty, Doctoroff said.

He added the Deutsche Bank building needs to come down to redevelop the area and, regardless of the ruling in the Silverstein case, there will be enough insurance money to start the ball rolling.

“The greater the insurance proceeds the more perverse effect on the market,” he said. “I would prefer to see a much more gradual pace of building.”

Industry insiders are also optimistic about redeveloping Lower Manhattan. “We are very encouraged with the plan that has come forward,” commented Ric Clark, CEO of Brookfield Properties. Specifically, Clark focused on the revised street grid and the transportation upgrades, pointing to the opening of the temporary PATH Station Downtown slated for November.

There are still a few decisions left to be made, he said, including whether to submerge a portion of West Street or the entire length through Lower Manhattan to the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel and which mode of transportation linking Long Island to Downtown will be adopted.

All that aside, Clark is pleased with the current timeline for other advances, such as the 2003 launch of a fast ferry connecting Lower Manhattan to LaGuardia Airport, the 2005 construction of a permanent transit hub, the 2005 launch of a fast ferry to JFK Airport and the 2006 opening of a permanent PATH Station, he said.

In addition to the redevelopment and transportation issues, the residential component of Lower Manhattan has seen a tremendous comeback already. According to Doctoroff, on Oct. 31, 2001 there was a 40% vacancy rate in Battery Park City. At that time people doubted residents would move back to Battery Park City; however, the vacancy rate now stands at 2%, he added.

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