January 19th - January 25th, 2013
Setai Developer Lower Manhattan Office Building
January 18 - A Lower Manhattan office building has sold to an Italian real estate development firm for $53 million, according to records filed with the city today. The Real Deal reported that Bizzi and Partners, a Milan-based developer, nabbed the 12-story building at 350 Broadway, situated between Leonard and Franklin streets in another last minute trade before the end of 2012. The seller, an entity identified only as Hampstead LLC, did not have a phone number listed. The building was previously owned by Extell Development, which sold the 114,000 square-foot office space to Hampstead for $39.5 million in 2006. Other Bizzi projects include 400 Fifth Avenue, a combination condominium and hotel known as the Setai Fifth Avenue. Last October, Bizzi sold the hotel portion of the development to hospitality operator Great Eagle Group for $229 million.
Law Firms, Agencies Trickle Back to Offices in Lower Manhattan
January 22 - Three months after Hurricane Sandy destroyed the infrastructure of many offices in Lower Manhattan, displaced law firms and legal agencies are trickling back downtown, reported the New York Law Journal. High on the agenda for some firms will be attempting to recover business contingency and relocation expenses. Some firms, however, are still unsure when they can move back in, and are awaiting their buildings' main tenants to return first. Prohibitively high expenses also are a main obstacle, with fees ranging as high as $75,000 in IT and moving equipment expenses -- amounts not typically covered by insurance.
SPI Launches Silver Suites Offices at 7 WTC
January 23 - Silverstein Properties has launched a new initiative tailored to smaller firms with big ambitions, according to Real Estate Weekly. SPI announced the launch of Silver Suites Offices at 7 World Trade Center, a new executive office space and service business renting spaces from $1,500 to $15,000 a month. Silver Suites will provide flexible office solutions for growing companies of all sizes, beginning with 30,000 pre-built square feet on the 46th floor of the 52-story tower. Silver Suites features 60 fully equipped offices with amenities including conference rooms, a business lounge, Skype lounge, copy center and a break room all with views of the Manhattan skyline. The offices range from 100 to 1,000 square feet.
New WTC Security Chief Speaks on Big Responsibilities
January 23 - The new chief of security at the 16-acre World Trade Center is a veteran of the Secret Service who was responsible for internal White House safety, reported the New York Post. The Port Authority hired Long Island native Doug Farber to run the system that will soon protect the top terror target in the nation. Farber, who started early this month, will be paid $180,000 per year to run a military-grade security system that will protect tens of thousands of workers -- as well as the streets and train lines that run alongside WTC. Farber was based in New York on 9-11, coordinating Secret Service arrangements for the annual gathering of world leaders at the UN General Assembly that was only days away. When terrorists struck, he raced downtown to help. Now, more than 11 years later, he still keeps a piece of the Twin Towers -- where the Secret Service had its field office -- on a plaque close to his desk. Farber replaced Lou Barani, who was fired last June because of questions about his dealings with WTC security vendors. Farber also inherits a particularly delicate spot at the intersection of turf battles among the NYPD, the Port Authority, City Hall, the governors of both New York and New Jersey and the federal government.
Silver Urges Reopening of Crosswalk at West and Vesey Streets
January 24 - The loss of two elevators at the Vesey Street pedestrian bridge and one of its escalators, which have been unavailable for more than two months as a result of damage from Hurricane Sandy, has prompted renewed calls for the city Department of Transportation to reopen the grade-level crossing at the intersection of West and Vesey Streets, according to the Broadsheet. State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who has repeatedly called for the street-level crossing to be reopened for several years, wrote to New York City Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan on January 15, about the vital importance of the major West Street crossing. In the past, Sadik-Khan vetoed such proposals on the grounds that a truck entrance to the World Trade Center site, used by construction vehicles, makes the intersection unsafe for pedestrians. The 220-foot span, which cost $15 million, opened in November 2003. It was originally designed for a life span of five years, and was supposed to be demolished once the long-planned pedestrian tunnel beneath West Street (which will connect the World Financial Center to the WTC) opens. But that project, originally slated to debut in 2008, is now scheduled to be complete either in late 2013 or early 2014. For several years after the bridge opened, pedestrians still had the option of crossing West Street beneath it, at grade level. But, in 2007, as the pace of construction picked up at the WTC site, the DOT decided to close the intersection to pedestrians entirely.
WTC Workers Scrawl Graffiti of Defiance, Hope
January 24 - On most construction projects, workers are discouraged from signing or otherwise scrawling on the iron and concrete, according to the Associated Press. At the skyscraper rising at ground zero, though, they are being invited to leave messages for the ages. The words on beams, walls and stairwells of the skyscraper that replaces the twin towers lost on Sept. 11, 2001, form the graffiti of defiance and rebirth, what ironworker supervisor Kevin Murphy calls things from the heart. They are remembrances of the 2,700 people who died, and testaments to the hope that rose from a shattered morning. Some beams are almost completely covered in a spaghetti-like jumble of doodled hearts and flowers, loopy cursives and blaring capitals. Many want to simply mark their presence. Some ends up in whimsical graffiti marking World Cup soccer matches, New York Giants Super Bowl victories and other less-weighty matters that have gone on since construction began six years ago. One crudely drawn map of the neighborhood down below shows the location of a popular strip club. People on the ground below will never see the spontaneous private thoughts high in the Manhattan sky. The graffiti will disappear as the raw basic structure is covered with drywall, ceiling panels and paint for tenants moving into the 3 million square feet of office space by 2014.
Eataly-Like Market Eyed for Prime Downtown Spot
January 24 - The operator of the Financier chain of coffee shops, the downtown restaurant Harry's Cafe and Steak, and several other eateries is close to signing a multi-million dollar deal to open a large food market at the World Financial Center overlooking the Hudson River downtown, reported Crain's New York. The deal is one of the lynchpins in a $250 million effort by the property landlord, Brookfield Office Properties, to remake the 8-million-square-foot, four-building complexs 200,000 square feet of retail space. Restaurateur Peter Poulakakos will open a 25,000-square-foot food market at the property, a source involved in the deal said. The market will boast several food counters selling a host of goods from gourmet cheeses and meats, to prepared foods. Brookfield is betting it can echo the success of venues like Eataly in the flatiron district and the Grand Central Market, which both became culinary sensations that drew tourists, neighborhood residents and workers alike.