Lower Manhattan Business Leaders Optimistic About Area's Sandy Recovery
A group of Lower Manhattan business leaders reflect on the state of the neighborhood's recovery from Hurricane Sandy, and when it comes to the future of the one of the country's largest business districts, they say they are all very optimistic. NY1's Jon Weinstein filed the following report.
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Hurricane Sandy may have battered Lower Manhattan four months ago, but the Downtown Alliance business group is touting how far the neighborhood has come back.
"I think it's very important to share the enthusiasm and the optimism with the facts that Lower Manhattan is back and ready for business," said Elizabeth Berger, president of the Downtown Alliance.
The numbers in a new report from the Alliance seem to reflect that. Damage from Hurricane Sandy closed 35 percent of the offices downtown immediately after the storm. Now, practically all of that is back.
"The reality is that the tenants are making decisions that reinforce that Lower Manhattan is back and desirable," said John Wheeler, managing director at Jones Lang LaSalle.
Only seven residential buildings remain closed, compared to 42 closed one week after the storm.
As for hotels, only 165 rooms remain unavailable now, compared to 1,473 that were closed right after the storm.
The business leaders said that the challenge is making people aware just how much the area below Chambers Street recovered.
"The perception that Sandy has caused damage that has not been overcome persists, so I think it's very important to set the record straight," Berger said.
One area still struggling to recover, though, is retail. While 90 percent of businesses across Downtown are open, leaders said more needs to be done along areas like the Seaport and Water Street.
"Small business owners, particularly the street-side guys like the Water Street corridor, continues to need attention," said David Cheikin, vice president of Brookfield Office Properties.
Other challenges remain, including Verizon fully restoring phone service. There is still no timetable for that, but the company said it's getting close.
The discussion also focused on lessons learned and what building owners and businesses owners can do to be prepared in the event of another catastrophic storm.
"Design the building so that if we have a reoccurrence, the recovery will be much quicker," said Kevin McCann of Cushman Wakefield. "Instead of weeks, it will be in days."
Despite any threats from mother nature, there's optimism for the future.