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Simon says Sandy caused minimal damage to shopping centers

October 30, 2012
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Simon Property Group Inc., the largest mall owner in the U.S., and competitor Brookfield Office Properties Inc. said Atlantic superstorm Sandy appears to have caused minimal damage to their properties.

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.

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.

Sandy churned across Pennsylvania Tuesday 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, Calif.-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.

“The real issue it appears was historic flood levels in the New York harbor area,” Rosenbluth said in a telephone interview from Tysons Corner, Va. 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.”

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

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, Mich.-based company. Taubman malls in Stamford, Conn., and Short Hills, N.J., are closed, and the center in Short Hills is without power, she said.

Properties owned by Washington Real Estate Investment Trust, a Rockville, Md.-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, Md.-based company.

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