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NEW YORK CITY-All signs point toward recovery, according to speakers at Cushman & Wakefield’s 2004 Economic Forum at the Pierre Hotel. “Recovery has the capacity to be rapid if job growth continues,” said Janice Stanton, senior managing director, Analytics, for Cushman & Wakefield. “We’re seeing job growth now we should have seen in 2002.”

Stanton also said that another promising sign is the record prices for class A office sales—now edging toward $400 per sf in some cases. “C&W has flipped properties at 15% to 30% profit after only holding them for six months.” She anticipates that Wall Street will be “the engine” for job growth and expects the number of white-collar type positions to increase three-quarter of 1% this year and double that amount next year.

New York City is also faring well when compared to many locales. “New York doesn’t exist in a vacuum—it has no reason to gripe. It’s tight market.” Some possible risks she sees on the horizon include outsourcing, inflation and the possibility of an election-time terrorist attack. While she doesn’t feel outsourcing is as much of a New York-area concern, repeated attacks could “hamper New York recovery.”

According to Ken Krasnow, executive managing director, New York area, leasing activity is up at a number of sites including 605 Third Ave., 850 Third, and 245 and 299 Park Ave. He said steady vacancy rates coupled with a decrease in sublease space are “clear signs of recovery.” While the legal industry remains the market driver, “the sleeping giant” in the financial services sector is about to be woken, Krasnow anticipates.

A big motivating factor for recovery, he feels, is that, with the exception of 7 World Trade Center, there has been “historic” amounts of pre-leasing activity at sites about to come to market including 300 Madison Ave., Times Square Tower and 731 Lexington. “The historic amount of pre-leasing bodes well for sustained recovery in the near term. The market can handle the increase of leasing activity.” He expects more space at these sites to be taken up within the next 60 days. The approximately two-million sf of residential conversions expected to come online in the next few years will also be a factor driving the local economy.

Keynote speaker former US Senator and now Disney chair George Mitchell spoke of the global economic situation particularly noting three serious threats to watch for in this decade: nuclear proliferation; terrorist group proliferation; and a deepening hostility toward the US. “9/11 showed us the tremendous vulnerability of Democracy and the profound economic effects,” he said.

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