Simon, Brookfield Say Sandy Caused Minimal Building Harm

Simon Property Group Inc., the largest mall owner in the U.S., and Brookfield Office Properties Inc. said Atlantic superstorm Sandy appears to have caused minimal damage to their properties.

Brookfield’s World Financial Center and One Liberty Plaza in lower Manhattan “fared well” in the storm and the buildings’ power is on, said Andy Willis, a spokesman for Toronto-based Brookfield Asset Management Inc., Brookfield Office’s largest shareholder. Damage was minor at Simon’s malls and outlet centers in New York and other areas hit by the storm, said Les Morris, a spokesman for the Indianapolis-based company.

Sandy churned across Pennsylvania today after blacking out much of southern Manhattan and leaving a trail of flooding, death and destruction along the East Coast. Economic damages from the storm may total as much as $20 billion, with $5 billion to $10 billion of that insured, according to Eqecat Inc., an Oakland, California-based provider of catastrophic risk models.

In lower Manhattan along the East River in the Water Street area, most of the buildings have “water infiltration in lower levels,” said Jim Rosenbluth, managing director for crisis management at Cushman & Wakefield Inc., the New York-based commercial property broker and manager.

‘Historic’ Levels

“The real issue it appears was historic flood levels in the New York harbor area,” Rosenbluth said in a telephone interview from Tysons Corner, Virginia. It’s too early to tell which properties in the area were affected, he said. “We are assessing the buildings in lower Manhattan at this time.”

Silverstein Properties Inc. said it also was evaluating the storm’s impact.

“It appears that we have not sustained any lasting damage to our existing properties or at our World Trade Center buildings currently under construction,” the company said today in an e-mailed statement. “There was some degree of flooding affecting the below-grade areas of the buildings. We are working closely with the Port Authority and our contractors to pump that water out.”

Seven World Trade Center is staffed and running with emergency power, the company said. Once power is restored to lower Manhattan, it expects to fully resume operations.

55 Water

At 55 Water St. in lower Manhattan, an office building with almost 4 million square feet (372,000 square meters), power will not be restored for at least a few days, said David Bronner, chief executive officer of the building’s owner, Retirement Systems of Alabama, based in Montgomery. The building experienced flooding in its lobby and sublevels.

Bronner said he has no estimates of damage yet.

“We currently have five pump trucks on their way to the building, three are from Cleveland and two from D.C.,” Bronner said. “They should be on site sometime early tomorrow morning and hopefully we’ll get clearance from the city and we’ll start pumping the water out of the sublevels. That will then give us a chance to see the damage.”

Properties in areas with less damage are starting to operate again. Simon Property’s Roosevelt Field mall in Garden City, New York, and Rockaway Townsquare in Rockaway, New Jersey, are scheduled to be open today, Morris said. The company’s Woodbury Common Premium Outlets center in Orange County, New York, north of Manhattan will be closed today, he said.

Taubman Malls

Malls owned by Taubman Centers Inc. suffered minimal damage, such as fallen trees and wrecked signs, said Karen MacDonald, a spokeswoman for the Bloomfield Hills, Michigan-based company. Taubman malls in Stamford, Connecticut, and Short Hills, New Jersey, are closed today, and the center in Short Hills is without power, she said.

Properties owned by Washington Real Estate Investment Trust, a Rockville, Maryland-based owner of office buildings, shopping centers and apartments in the Washington area, didn’t have any major damage, Chief Financial Officer William Camp said in an e-mail. Buildings owned by First Potomac Realty Trust, an office and industrial landlord with properties in Washington, Maryland and Virginia, also escaped significant damage, said Vikki Kayne, a spokeswoman for the Bethesda, Maryland-based company.

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