"We will never forget Sept. 11, 2001," said Steven Ford, senior managing director of New York-based Cushman & Wakefield, to the board of governors of the Building Owners and Managers Association in Washington, D.C.

After the first plane hit Tower One of the World Trade Center, Ford and his colleague Bill Toohey, took the subway to Downtown Manhattan, where C&W manages 20 million sq. ft. "Smoke was pouring into the car, and at one point, we thought this could be it," Ford said.

Once they arrived safely downtown, Ford, Toohey and several other C&W employees spent the rest of the day and night of Sept. 11 making sure the C&W-managed properties were protected, stabilized and had the necessary emergency supplies.

Ford also offered details about the terrorist attacks’ impact on Downtown Manhattan real estate. In all,

•13.4 million sq. ft. of Class-A office space in the World Trade Center was destroyed.
•18.5 million sq. ft. of Class-A office space was damaged.
•2.6 million sq. ft. of Class-B and Class-C office space was damaged.
•To date, of the 18.5 million sq. ft. of damaged Class-A space, 10 million sq. ft. is now operational. The remaining damaged space will be operational in anywhere from two weeks to five years.

Ford praised the efforts of Verizon, the local telephone company and Con Edison, the electric company for the prompt restoration of communications and power to the area. He also mentioned that due to a warm fall and winter in New York, the clean up work at Ground Zero "now looks like a construction site."

Ford then recounted how the attacks have affected the people of New York. "I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the impact this event has had on New Yorkers," he said. "Many of us have been tested personally, financially, professionally and emotionally. This event has given many of us a renewed spirit of patriotism, civic mindedness, a stronger sense of family and friends, and in many cases, energized faith."

He concluded with an affirmation of life: "It has also served as a reminder, albeit, a powerful one, that we cannot take life for granted. So celebrate life."