NEW YORK CITY-Now that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and Silverstein Properties have reached an accord on the rebuilding of the World Trade Center site, what’s next for Lower Manhattan? Construction will continue in the area until the build-out’s expected completion in 2001. Those familiar with the Lower Manhattan market think this turning point is just one of the pieces of the pie that are coming together to revitalize the area.

“There is a new sense of enthusiasm,” says Eric Deutsch, president of the Alliance for Downtown New York. The Alliance is emphasizing five priorities to serve as a road map for the revitalization. These include transportation, commercial and retail activity, construction mitigation and diversification.

The group supports the proposed LIRR connection to JFK Airport and is also focused on attracting and retaining commercial businesses as well as retail. According to Alliance officials, the area’s work force, growing residential population and annual tourist traffic of eight million visitors is an untapped resource for marketers. “Smaller businesses are coming here,” Deutsch adds. “We’ve seen growth in professional services, creative services, healthcare and media companies. There has been a diversification of the tenant base. Tomorrow’s jobs come from smaller businesses.” Incentives have helped lure businesses to the area, but the 24/7 community and better amenities will help to keep them there, he notes.

To deal with all the anticipated construction activity the Alliance has also created a construction mitigation group designed to coordinate and lessen the impact on daily life. “When people realize the benefits of the construction over time, it will be more acceptable to them,” Deutsch says.

Ric Clark, president and CEO of Brookfield Properties Corp., spoke about Lower Manhattan during a presentation on the firm’s annual report. Brookfield owns a number of Downtown sites including the World Financial Center.

“We’re excited about Lower Manhattan,” he said. “The infrastructure improvements will transform the area.” He said he’s already seeing increasing interest from those seeking bulk amounts of space and predicts the area’s vacancy rate could hit “single digits” by year end. A key factor driving people to Lower Manhattan, according to Clark, is the increasing rents at some Midtown sites. “There are $100-per-sf rents at 20 buildings. We expect we will need all the new space by the time it’s built.”

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