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Manhattan Business Exodus Continues
Five Months After the Sept. 11 Attacks, Business Flight Continues in Lower Manhattan

By KAREN MATTHEWS, Associated Press Writer

Feb 14, 2002

NEW YORK (AP) -- Five months after the Sept. 11 attack, more than one in four jobs in lower Manhattan has been lost, and half of the businesses whose buildings were destroyed or damaged do not plan to return to the neighborhood, surveys have found.

The surveys solidify the growing sense that the world's financial capital will not be same even as the buildings are repaired or rebuilt.

About 100,000 of the 370,000 jobs that were once in downtown Manhattan have been lost entirely or have been moved to midtown, out of town or out of state, according to the Alliance for Downtown New York.

M. Myers Mermel, chief executive of TenantWise.com, an online commercial real estate firm, said 49 percent of the tenants in destroyed or damaged office buildings say they are leaving downtown for good. Those tenants once occupied 17 million square feet.

Many companies that are not leaving outright are decentralizing -- or spreading out their employees at different offices -- for fear of suffering a devastating loss in another terrorist attack.

``The trend once upon a time was to have the corporate campus, to have everyone in one place,'' said Valerie Lewis, a spokeswoman for the Alliance for Downtown, a business improvement organization. ``9-11 has flipped that around. Now dispersal is in.''

Citywide, 94,000 jobs have been lost permanently since the Sept. 11 attack, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said this week as he delivered a delivered a budget address that called for spending cuts and heavy borrowing.

Companies displaced by the attacks include financial giants American Express and Lehman Brothers, joint owners of 3 World Financial Center, a 51-story tower directly across the street from the World Trade Center.

Lehman Brothers spokesman Jason Farrago said the lower floors occupied by the investment bank were severely damaged by flying girders. ``We have a hole where some of the offices used to be,'' he said.

Unwilling to wait for the Cesar Pelli-designed tower to be repaired, Lehman Brothers bought a new headquarters at Seventh Avenue and 49th Street and is moving in gradually. The investment bank plans to lease or sell the floors it occupied at the World Financial Center.

American Express will move back, beginning in April. It had about 3,000 employees at 3 World Financial Center and 1,000 at other downtown sites.

Dow Jones & Co. had about 800 employees at 1 World Financial Center. It plans to move about half that number back in once asbestos removal has been completed, spokesman Steven Goldstein said. Other departments, including The Wall Street Journal's copy desk and graphics department, will work out of South Brunswick, N.J., where they have been located since the attacks.

Lewis, of the Downtown Alliance, said an incentive plan announced by Gov. George Pataki last month should help keep businesses in lower Manhattan. She said there is $80 million in state money for small-business grants and $170 million in loans and grants for large businesses that stay in lower Manhattan or seek to locate there.

But Mermel said that even some downtown companies whose buildings were not damaged are leaving or dispersing. He cited the decision by the investment bank Goldman Sachs to move its equities staff to Jersey City, N.J.

``Where it's leading,'' Mermel said, ``is that there is risk of continuing loss of jobs in lower Manhattan.''

Copyright 2002 Associated Press. All rights reserved.
 

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