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NEW YORK CITY-September 11, 2001 I wasn’t in New York City—I watched the day’s events unfold from Charlottesville, VA, where I was working in the facilities management department at the University of Virginia, coordinating documents in the architectural library there. So it was difficult to grapple with how best to reflect on the tenth anniversary of that terrible day, either personally or for GlobeSt.com. Given what happened that day here in New York and elsewhere, and the monumental rebuilding of Lower Manhattan that has followed, I found myself wanting most to hear directly from some of New York’s key real estate figures who lived through it. Below, we gave seven of them space to share their thoughts, recollections… anything they chose. So we asked Anthony Malkin, Jonathan Mechanic, Joseph Moinian, Bruce Mosler, Larry Silverstein, Mary Ann Tighe and Carl Weisbrod to share their thoughts. As you’ll read, they stayed focused not only on the immediacy of the moment–comforting and assisting those in need. But they also kept an eye on the horizon and the future of Lower Manhattan and New York City as a whole.
Anthony Malkin, president of Malkin Holdings I was at breakfast out of the city when a friend in Italy called to say that a plane had just hit the World Trade Center. I thought it was just a small airplane and gave it no further thought. I received another phone call, and then another–each repeating the same news. I got up from the breakfast table and asked the hostess to turn on the bar TV. This was no small plane. As I stood there watching, the second plane hit the second tower. I got in the car and told my driver to head into New York City. In a time of trouble, I belonged in my office. On I-95 at New Rochelle I could see the plumes of smoke from downtown New York City. Access in and out of New York was shut down. We turned the car around. For weeks, my job was CEO, scout leader and den mother. Losses and near misses were everywhere, but I tried to keep my eye on the business and move forward. One month later my wife and I went to the 9/11 concert at Madison Square Garden. When Billy Joel played “Miami 2017” (Seen the Lights Go Out on Broadway), I started crying. Whenever I hear that song, I still get chills.
Jonathan L. Mechanic, partner and chair of the real estate practice at Fried Frank I was in my office at One New York Plaza on the morning of 9/11, and I saw the flames coming out of the Trade Center before we understood what was really transpiring. We evacuated our office when the second plane hit, and I walked up the FDR Drive to meet my wife and kids at our apartment in the Village. We watched the news together, trying to figure out what had happened and then trying to figure out how we could be helpful and how to communicate with our clients and friends who had been affected. Our office was shut down for about a week, and when we returned there was a palpable sense that we were committed to remaining Downtown and that we would do whatever we could to help rebuild, to be part of the future. I joined the board of Wall Street Rising in its early days and was very proud to contribute to the efforts to preserve the residential, retail and office tenants in the neighborhood. We also had the opportunity to work on the two first office leasing deals–the New York Academy of Sciences and Moody’s–that allowed Larry Silverstein’s vision for the new 7 World Trade Center to become a reality. Recently, we were part of the team that brought Conde Nast to One World Trade Center, and with that commitment there is renewed excitement for the whole World Trade Center campus. It’s thrilling to see Goldman Sachs present and vibrant at 200 West St., all the construction activity and the curtain wall rising at One World Trade Center and the opening of new hotels, apartment buildings and restaurants. We at Fried Frank are committed to remaining Downtown, with just under 400,000-square feet at One New York Plaza, and I am very proud to be part of the Downtown business community and see, every day first hand, the rebuilding of this neighborhood and a very positive future for our city.
Joseph Moinian, CEO and founder, the Moinian Group I was in my office in Midtown on the morning of 9/11 and I watched the tragedy unfold on television. For 10 years, I had been working on various projects in Downtown Manhattan–office and residential alike–and we had just come to the point where everything was stable and well occupied after a period of real economic challenge. As I watched the tragedy, I realized that in addition to the tremendous loss of human life, so much of the progress of the revitalization of Lower Manhattan had also been destroyed. People were literally running away from Downtown Manhattan, afraid for their lives. Some people told me that Downtown would never come back again, but I refused to believe it. I knew that it would change us all forever, but I also knew that we would be able to come together and find a way to rebuild Downtown. When I look at what is happening now at the World Trade Center, I believe that even though nothing can replace the lives lost on 9/11, One World Trade Center is a testament to the strength of the people of New York and our entire nation. I am very proud to be involved in the Memorial Park initiative and also of the buildings and businesses that we have contributed to the skyline of Lower Manhattan. Together we are making sure that Downtown is rebuilt, and that it will always be a great location for families to live, businesses to operate and visitors to experience the City.
Bruce Mosler, chairman, Global Brokerage, Cushman & WakefieldThis tragedy isn’t something we could have accepted without making the statement that we would rebuild, and rebuild stronger than ever. In the aftermath of the attacks, there were a lot of questions, many posed by the media, about whether people would ever inhabit high-rises again and questions about the make-up of the people of this city. My answer to the first question is that, with plans in place for disaster recovery and the need for groups to be together to work efficiently and to support the creative-thinking process, yes, people will continue to inhabit high-rises. Today, the country’s urban centers are the markets that are doing extremely well. The answer to the second question, given the resilience of the people of New York and the leadership that so many took to get us all back to work, is clear. After the attacks, my then seven-year-old asked me if we would all be okay. I told him yes. We are the United States.
Larry Silverstein, president and CEO, Silverstein PropertiesIt’s hard to remember that 10 years ago, many were convinced that Lower Manhattan was finished as a business district. I can tell you that I never wavered on Downtown. I’ve been in the business for 50 years, and long ago learned to never bet against New York. My company and I held firm to our conviction that Downtown had enormous potential both as a residential neighborhood and as a business district–that it could and would become a model 24/7 live-work mixed-use community. We were buoyed by the knowledge that New Yorkers wanted a spectacular rebuilding and a restored skyline–and they didn’t want to wait generations to see it finished. Of course, it hasn’t always been easy, and everyone hasn’t always agreed. But the one thing everyone did have in common–and what drove us at Silverstein Properties–was a passion to create something even better than existed before. After 9/11, it took some time to develop a plan that reconciled all the different goals New Yorkers had for a rebuilt Trade Center site, beginning with an appropriate memorial that will honor the memory of the 2,752 people who died here on 9/11. For me that includes four Silverstein employees who–we can’t forget–had a total of six children. Daniel Libeskind’s “Memory Foundations” Master Plan did reconcile everyone’s goals in a very meaningful way. It turned half of the site into public space. And by re-introducing Manhattan’s historic streets through the site, the Libeskind plan ensured the World Trade Center would connect seamlessly to the surrounding neighborhoods.
Mary Ann Tighe, CEO, New York Tri-State Region, CB Richard Ellis On September 11, 2001, I was living in an apartment the windows of which had a clear view of the World Trade Center. When the first plane hit I thought an amateur pilot had mistakenly flown into the building and I knew immediately that Cantor Fitzgerald was near the impact. When the second plane hit, I knew it had struck my customer, Marsh & McLennan. I went directly to Marsh’s 1166 Avenue of the Americas offices where I would spend the day sitting with them while they were trying to locate their employees. At the same time, I was on the phone with another customer, Empire Blue Cross and Blue Shield, which was headquartered in the Twin Towers. Those weeks and months after 9/11 were spent working with Marsh and Empire trying to find temporary and long-term office solutions for their operations, even while supporting them in their grief over lost colleagues. In that same period, we also relocated the Port Authority’s offices to 225 Park Avenue South and One Madison. The remainder of 2001 was an emotional struggle to deal with loss, while attempting to bring order to these shattered operations. These months made me realize how much people valued having a place to go to work each day. It gave me new appreciation for my profession. Now, I look at Downtown and see the great resilience of New Yorkers, who despite their memories of the irreplaceable human loss of that day, chose to reclaim their lives and livelihoods by reinventing Downtown, turning it into a vibrant new city within a city. Since then, the residential population has doubled and businesses continue to move there and are far more diversified than pre-9/11. And New York City as a whole is doing better than the rest of the nation in terms of employment. That is Our City’s ongoing answer to those who struck us on 9/11.
Carl Weisbrod, partner at HR&A Advisors and full-time professor at the NYU Schack Institute of Real Estate and chair of the global real estate development concentration I was heading the Downtown Alliance and I was in early that morning. I was actually talking to Iris Weinshall–who was then the city’s commissioner of transportation–on the phone and one of the employees at the Downtown Alliance came in and said that she just saw a plane go into the World Trade Center tower. I sort of assumed that it was a small plane, but she said it was quite a fire. And I went outside and then saw from the street the second plane go into the World Trade Center. That I’ll never forget. We at the Downtown Alliance set up a triage center a couple of blocks south of the World Trade Center on Washington Street in a police substation that we managed and ran. But there wasn’t too much triage that day–people lived or people died and it was quite something. I’m going to go to the ten-year anniversary memorial at the World Trade Center on Sunday and I think it’s an important thing for me to attend emotionally and hopefully bring some degree of emotional closure for myself.

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