The Real Deal New York

TRD survey: More than 17 million SF of downtown office space shuttered in Sandy’s wake

55 Water Street and 1 New York Plaza among the largest buildings impacted

November 01, 2012 06:00PM
By Adam Pincus

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Commercial buildings housing at least 17.3 million square feet of office space in Lower Manhattan had their basements flooded by Hurricane Sandy — and remain shuttered, a survey by The Real Deal found.

The survey conducted on foot and by phone found that at least 15 buildings  on the east side of Lower Manhattan were closed and had flooding in the basements, and in many cases the sub-basements.

Neither the city’s Department of Buildings nor the city’s leading industry trade group, the Real Estate Board of New York, have released figures with the total square feet of office space impacted by the surge of flooding caused by the hurricane.

A spokesperson for REBNY said the group did not have a figure, and the city did not respond to a request for comment.

The DOB said in a statement today that owners and tenants can re-occupy buildings in the evacuation Zone A – the most susceptible to flooding — after either a city inspector has given permission, or after a certified engineer or licensed architect determines the structure passes an inspection checklist, including that it has no standing water anywhere in the building.

A spokesperson from Con Edison said today the power company expects to have electricity restored to all of Manhattan by Saturday.

However, properties could remain closed after power returns for widely varying lengths of time. A source said Silverstein Properties’ 120 Wall Street might be open by the middle of next week, shortly after power was turned back on. Other buildings could take weeks, such as SL Green Realty’s 180 Maiden Lane, a Bloomberg article reported. The owners of the buildings when contacted were reluctant to provide estimates of when the properties would come back online.

Downtown buildings impacted by flooding

The largest of the impacted properties was 55 Water Street, a 3.6-million-square-foot behemoth owned by the Retirement Systems of Alabama, which is home to firms such as Depository Trust & Clearing.

Other buildings impacted include the 2.5-million-square-foot 1 New York Plaza, home to law firm Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson, the 1.6-million-square-foot 2 Broadway, where the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has offices, and the 1.5 million-square-foot 4 New York Plaza, with tenants such as newspaper the New York Daily News.

Yesterday, the curbs along Broad Street were streaming with water being pumped out of the basements of the flooded office buildings. In addition, workers were pumping water from two levels of underground tunnels where communications lines had flooded under Pearl Street.

A spokesperson for Swig Equities, which owns 90 Broad Street, would not provide an estimate for the re-occupation of the building, but said, “Swig Equities has been working tirelessly to address the problems caused by Hurricane Sandy to its portfolio of downtown properties.”

Meanwhile, the owners of 60 Broad Street, Piedmont Office Realty Trust, are “assessing the situation,” a spokesperson said, but would not provide an estimate for when the building would reopen.

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