Chicago Real Estate Changed After 9/11

September 07, 2011

Before September 11, 2001, Chicago’s Sears Tower was a highly prestigious place to work. After that day, the building became a scary place in which to be.

The iconic piece of Chicago real estate was almost 98 percent leased before 9/11. After the catastrophic events, and with fears that the 110-story tower could be a next target, leasing fell nearly 20 percent.

It has been 10 years since those horrific terrorist attacks forever changed our country.

The Willis Tower was the Sears Tower during 9/11.

“While ten years have passed, we have never stopped remembering those who were affected first-hand by the attacks,” said BOMA International Chair Boyd R. Zoccola, executive vice president, Hokanson Companies Inc. “As an industry, we continue to assess and strengthen our preparedness to ensure we have the systems, plans and people in place to keep building occupants safe.”

This week, the Building Owners and Managers Association (BOMA) International and the commercial real estate industry are commemorating the 10th anniversary of the tragic terrorist attacks.

Since the attacks, the commercial real estate industry has made huge strides in enhancing the security of buildings and increasing preparedness measures.

Here are just a few of the ways preparedness has changed over the last decade:

* BOMA International and its industry partners have teamed up to form the Real Estate Information Sharing and Analysis Center (REISAC), which provides bulletins on terrorist threats and activities.

* In many U.S. cities, including Chicago, office buildings now rely on electronic barriers/optical turnstiles, individual identification, bomb dog services and outside monitoring more than ever for security.

* Security firms have sought and received DHS Safety Act Certification/Designation for security programs  to provide the greatest amount of protection to clients and accounts.

* Large urban areas have re-written fire evacuation laws to mitigate potential loss of life and injuries from a similar event to 9/11 requiring, at a minimum, annual evacuations.

* Smart video software is being used to track specific activities, such as packages left in one place for a specific period of time or for suspicious behavior around the building or in parking garages.

* Many buildings now include elevator lockouts, which only allow riders to exit at a specified floor.

* Building managers and owners have strengthened communication with their neighbors, tenants and the authorities regarding their emergency preparedness plans. Real estate managers are using table top sessions more and more to identify potential risks and coordination of responses.

BOMA is hosting a webinar on Thursday, September 8 from 1 to 2 p.m. entitled, “9/11 Retrospective, Emergency Preparedness a Decade Later.”

The webinar will cover:

* Current best practices for emergency preparedness

* Emerging challenges and threats

* Emergency preparedness planning and real estate budget realities

* Fiscal Risk: Impacts of state and local budget cuts for preparedness and response infrastructure

* New strategies for managing security risk in a changing world

To sign up for the webinar, visit the BOMA Education page.

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