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9/11: Five Years Later: 7 World Trade Open For Business, Lacking Tenants

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TWC News: 9/11: Five Years Later: 7 World Trade Open For Business, Lacking Tenants
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It was the last building to fall on September 11th and the first to be rebuilt since the attacks, but will tenants flock to 7 World Trade Center just because there's space available?Rebecca Spitz filed the following report, as NY1's coverage of the five-year anniversary of 9/11 continues.

From his office in 7 World Trade Center, developer Larry Silverstein literally oversees the site. It's been his preoccupation ever since the attacks in 2001.

"What will happen as a result of all of this activity is a 24/7 community, the quality of which — the likes of which — has never been seen before," says Silverstein.

Silverstein's pride to date is tower number seven. It was the last building to fall on September 11th and is the only one to be rebuilt in the 5-years since. But despite the fanfare that accompanied its opening, the 52 story building is still largely unoccupied, save architects working on plans for his additional towers 2, 3 and 4, but Silverstein isn't worried.

"You know it reflects exactly what happened the first time around with 7 World Trade Center, which we built in 1987. It took about a year after the building was open for the leasing to really get going. [It's the] same circumstance as we're having today," says Silverstein.

There are many who think all of 7 World Trade Center is empty, but Silverstein says there are, in fact, eight tenants, some of whom are already there with the rest committed to moving in soon.

"Larry is nothing if not prone to a little hyperbole," says Julie Satow.

Satow is the real estate reporter for Crain's New York Business, and she says the reality is only 10-percent of the building has signed leases. Satow thinks Silverstein's asking price per square foot — between $50 and $60 dollars — has turned some tenants away, even though it's nearly comparable to the price of available space in Midtown.

"Larry's always believed that he could get this leased and a lot of Downtown landlords actually really wanted him not to lower the price, because keeping the price at $50-$55 a square foot really helps all the rents Downtown rise," says Satow.

Another difficulty is the collapse of a deal with Vantone Real Estate, a Beijing company that was slated to occupy space at the top of 7 World Trade Center. Despite the dissolution of that deal and it's accompanying revenue, Silverstein's focus is elsewhere.

"Moody's is taking about a third of the building," he says. "There's a group of other tenants who've committed to blocks of space in this building that bring the total up to a million feet. There are, at this juncture, two blocks of space left in this building."

Of course Moody's isn't actually in the building yet. It's expected to sign a lease for 16 floors of office space with a week's time. Move-in could happen sometime next year.

- Rebecca Spitz
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