Hundreds of companies displaced by storm seek temporary office spaces

By Adam Pincus | October 31, 2012 01:00PM

At least one sector of the New York economy may see a boom as a result of Hurricane Sandy. Executive suites firms have been inundated with calls from companies whose offices were flooded and affected by power outages.

Companies, such as the location-based social networking site Foursquare, are on the hunt for temporary space. Foursquare is located at 568 Broadway in Soho, a neighborhood that is currently without power.

A spokesperson for one of the largest executive office companies in the city, Regus, said the firm had fielded calls from about 150 companies and individuals seeking temporary space, some for as long as two months. “We have had about a half-dozen companies that have signed on to take up space. Some are long term, and are looking to get in right away,” Grant Greenberg, a Regus company spokesperson, said. The firm has 27 office locations in Manhattan, Greenberg said. (note: correction appended)

A spokesperson for Foursquare said the website has not had any outages, but the firm is looking to find space.

“Our office and many of our employees are without power. Our director of operations and our broker from Jones Lang LaSalle did several office site visits late last night and were able to find several temporary spaces for our employees to work out of for the next week,” the Foursquare spokesperson said.

The demand comes as some of the Financial District’s large buildings, such as 77 Water Street, home to former President Bill Clinton’s development foundation, and Swig Equities’ 90 Broad Street, home to Regal Title Agency, remain closed to tenants, after being flooded by Hurricane Sandy.

It wasn’t just the Financial District that was affected by the storm, and subsequent Con Edison power outages. Farther uptown, 99 Hudson Street in Tribeca, home to the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, and 411 Lafayette Street in Greenwich Village, home to some offices of New York University, also remained closed, as do scores of other properties throughout Lower Manhattan.

A broker at a large commercial firm said he was speaking with about 10 clients who have about 200 workers looking for temporary space. In addition, the firm was allowing a few dozen employees from client firms to work in the brokerage’s local headquarters in Midtown. However, the brokerage, worried that other clients would ask for the same treatment, was not authorized to speak about the arrangement.

James Wacht, president of commercial brokerage Lee & Associates NYC, said he got a call from a friend who is a partner at a law firm located in Lower Manhattan. In light of the storm, Wacht said he was in the process of helping find them temporary space to house about 10 employees “Their building has no electricity and they don’t know when they will get it back,” he said.

Juda Srour, president of Jay Suites, which has five office suites locations in the city, said he was getting calls from some of the largest tech firms in the city, including one looking to place as many as 100 people.

Meanwhile, Virgo Business Centers has two spaces in Midtown that it is showing to potential clients. “So far we have received requests to accommodate about 50-plus people immediately for at least a week,” said Pasha Erkin, Virgo’s director of sales. “These are multiple companies with as little as four [people] up to 15 [people].”

But executive suites firms are not untouched by the storm, even as they may gain customers from it. Regus has spaces in at least three buildings that are closed. One of Jay Suites’ office spaces is closed. And only one of WeWork’s two locations, is open — and the open location has no Internet, according to the company’s Twitter feed.