Rebuilt after 9/11, World Trade Center threatened anew by COVID-19

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THE MOVERS ARE HERE

In New York’s vertigo-inducing real estate market, prices rarely drop except after events like 9/11 or a recession, and prices are falling again now.

Downtown Manhattan rents are down 1.4% through July, the largest annualized fall since 2010, said Nancy Wu, an economist with the real estate database StreetEasy.

As of 2019, the neighbourhood’s rental market was the city’s fastest-growing. But the inventory of available apartments rose 80 percent this July from a year earlier, Wu said.

Guy Khan, director of banking at a financial services company, said the downturn was apparent around his home near City Hall, with chain stores and mom-and-pops closing and neighbours fleeing for the suburbs.

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“You see moving trucks every day,” he said.

Developer Larry Silverstein acquired a 99-year lease on the Twin Towers from the Port Authority for $ 3.2 billion just six weeks before 9/11. He has spent the past 19 years rebuilding.

In 2015, Silverstein forecast the entire site would be rebuilt by 2020, but that changed after the planned anchor tenant for 2 World Trade Center pulled out.

“Life is so unpredictable,” he said.

Silverstein and Libeskind, the master planner, see the pandemic as a temporary pause in downtown Manhattan’s ascendance, noting how predictions of decline after 9/11 proved wrong.

“People said New York will never come back. And it’s the same thing during the pandemic,” Libeskind said. “But I don’t believe it. New York is too resilient,” .

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