Companies & Industries

As One World Trade Center rose to new heights, Lower Manhattan changed around it

(Photo: Stan Honda/AFP)

(Photo: Stan Honda/AFP)

One World Trade Center is a testament to New Yorkers’ belief in a city that is always reaching upward, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said. As its spire was ceremoniously placed atop the building on May 2, the Lower Manhattan landmark became the tallest building in the Western hemisphere.

The spire, which arrived via barge from Valleyfield, Quebec, sat in two pieces on a top-of-the-tower work platform for more than a week until it was permanently installed on May 10. The 541-meter building, standing just north of the Ground Zero National September 11 Memorial & Museum, will be completed in 2014, in a neighbourhood much altered since the Twin Towers fell in 2001.

A decade ago, 75% of tenants in downtown Manhattan were in the financial or insurance industries, according to Robert Becker, Senior Leasing Manager with the Durst NY real estate, which manages the leasing of One World Trade Center. Today, these industries account for approximately 50% of all leased space in the area and that rate is expected to decline further as those industries downsize. Taking their place are media and technology companies, which are migrating south from Midtown to Lower Manhattan in search of cheaper lease rates.

As a testament to those changes, media giant Condé Nast is one of three organizations scheduled to move in to One World Trade Center next year. Joining the magazine publisher are Vantone, a property developer, which plans to use the space as a Chinese business centre, and General Services Administration (GSA), a government agency. In total, 55% of the $3.8 billion building is now leased.

During the tower’s construction, the surrounding population nearly doubled. There are now more businesses operating in Lower Manhattan than there were prior to 9/11, according to Bloomberg. “Over the next 10 years—come hell or high water—I fully expect that Lower Manhattan will continue to grow as a neighborhood, as a business district, as a creative community and as a destination for visitors,” he told a business audience a decade after the terrorist attacks.