Updated Monday, November 24, 2014 as of 4:22 AM ET

Morgan Stanley to AIG Face Weeks Without Lower Manhattan Offices

In any kind of “normal” flood, water would never reach 80 Pine St., a 39-story tower two blocks inland from the lower Manhattan waterfront, landlord William Rudin said.

Last night, his Rudin Management Co. was pumping out the basement, and he was grateful the building manager and engineer weren’t seriously hurt when water poured in as they were shutting down steam lines and checking equipment.

“They were in a very precarious position on Monday night,” Rudin said in a telephone interview. “They’re lucky they’re alive. Quick thinking by a couple of their associates saved their lives. So we’re very thankful.”

Now owners such as Rudin are dealing with the aftermath of the Atlantic storm Sandy, which triggered flooding on Oct. 29 that was anything but normal in lower Manhattan and may have put some buildings home to Wall Street firms out of commission for weeks. Landlords are draining basements and determining what it will take to get vital systems for electricity and steam back in service. Among the companies facing possible delays returning to their offices are Morgan Stanley and American International Group Inc.

The tower at 80 Pine is one of two of Rudin’s buildings that flooded, he said. The other is 110 Wall St. Tenants at 80 Pine include law firm Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP, and Tullett Prebon Americas Corp., a unit of the London-based inter-broker dealer, according to data from CoStar Group Inc., a Washington- based firm that tracks commercial-property leasing.

Water Street

Tenants at 110 Wall include First Investors Management Co., which offers mutual funds and other financial products, and M.R. Beal & Co., an investment bank.

“Depending on the systems affected, we’re talking weeks, not days,” said Jim Rosenbluth, managing director for crisis management at Cushman & Wakefield Inc., which manages about 15 million square feet (1.4 million square meters) of properties in downtown Manhattan. “My assessment is those buildings can’t be used, because you have to have all the basic building services up and running to make the building habitable.”

Buildings along or near Water Street, which runs from Battery Park on the lower end of the island past Wall Street to Fulton Street, bore the brunt of the record 14-foot (4.3-meter) surge that inundated lower Manhattan in Monday’s storm, Rosenbluth said. Many large financial firms have offices in that area.

The building at 180 Maiden Lane, which houses AIG’s headquarters, suffered “heavy flooding,” co-landlord SL Green Realty Corp. said yesterday in a statement. Engineers and other workers are removing water and seeking to restore operating systems as soon as they can, the company said.

Necessary Assessments

That 1.1 million-square-foot building is just across the FDR Drive from the East River, a block east of 80 Pine.

Rick Matthews, a spokesman for New York-based SL Green, wouldn’t comment beyond the statement. Jim Ankner, an AIG spokesman, said the company had initiated “business continuity plans” so it can serve customers.

The water must be pumped out before the damage to building equipment can be assessed, Rosenbluth said, speaking in general. Cushman doesn’t service 180 Maiden.

“Once that is done, and a visual assessment can be made, obviously everything has to be washed down to get the salt off, and then those spaces have to be dried out,” he said. “And then a comprehensive assessment of the electric and mechanical systems in those buildings has to be done.”

The city Department of Buildings will determine when the buildings can reopen, Rosenbluth said. Calls and e-mails to Tony Sclafani, a department spokesman, weren’t returned.

The department will be inspecting all structures throughout the city that lie in “Zone A,” its designation for the areas most vulnerable to flood, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said at a press conference yesterday. Safe buildings will get a green tag, those that are partially safe will be assigned a yellow tag and structures not ready for occupancy will get a red tag. Large building owners can self-certify if city engineers approve, the mayor said.

Morgan Stanley

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