When Kent Swig first ran the numbers, they were so shocking, he ran them again. It was 1998. On one side, there was Midtown Manhattan, where most of the city's real estate titans had made their bets, where vacancies were low and where prices were steep. Then there was the area below City Hall in Lower Manhattan—an area that didn't even really have a name, but that as far as Swig could tell had the same city government, the same transportation system, and similar demographics. The hotels there had solid occupancy. The retail and office scene was robust. Zoning laws had even been modified to allow landlords to convert antiquated office stock to hotels or condos. Why, then, were prices there so much lower? A few days earlier, a broker had approached Swig with a chance to take over a bid on the old Bank of New York Building at 48 Wall Street. Swig, who'd been looking to do his first big development deal, had toured the property and been blown away. He had always been a history buff, and the building had a compelling story. Built in 1929 in the Colonial Revival style on land owned by the Alexander… Read full this story
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