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Commercial real estate industry reaches out to offer disaster relief

No one is untouched by last week’s tragedy, as demonstrated by the efforts of individuals, companies and groups that are offering their money, time and support in the rebuilding period following the World Trade Center (WTC) attacks. Commercial real estate is no exception. The real estate community is responding by offering services ranging from no-fee compensation to donations.

Real estate broker/consultant Kenneth D. Laub announced that his company, Kenneth D. Laub & Co., would assist or represent any tenant, landlord or real estate broker dealing with problems arising directly or indirectly from the terrorist attack on the WTC. The company placed full-page advertisements in both the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times announcing its efforts. Laub said he decided to volunteer his services because he felt the commercial real estate community shouldn’t receive a windfall from the emergency facing commercial tenants.

As a broker/consultant, Laub acted on behalf of major tenants and landlords in transactions involving more than 7.5 million sq. ft. at the WTC, World Financial Center, 1 Liberty Plaza and other adjacent properties before the devastating events of Sept. 11.

We have gone from a state of emergency to a state of recovery for those affected by this tragedy, and we stand ready, willing and able to assist those in need," Laub said. "As brokers, we have a responsibility in these difficult times to make our expertise available without expectation of compensation." Laub urged his colleagues also to offer their services for no fee.

Other organizations also are raising money for the victims and their families. The National Association of Realtors (NAR), which represents more than 760,000 members involved in residential and commercial real estate, established The Realtors Housing Relief Fund to help pay the mortgage and rental costs of families devastated by the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, D.C.

NAR will make an initial contribution of $1 million to open the fund. Richard Mendenhall, NAR president, urged realtors nationwide to contribute to the fund. To donate to the fund, call 800-874-6500 or access the Web site at

ikewise, the Mortgage Bankers Association of America, which represents the real estate finance industry, pledged its support for an effort launched by the housing and mortgage financing industry to raise at least $25 million in support of the victims, families, rescue workers and others affected by the tragedy. MBA is participating in the drive with Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, NAR, the National Association of Home Builders, the National Multi Housing Council (NMHC), the Independent Community Bankers of America and the Home Ownership Alliance.

Each group is using its contacts and resources to find ways to help. For example, the NMHC is canvassing its members to identify those who have short-term leases available for furnished or semi-furnished apartments in the New York metro area for families displaced by the attacks and rescue workers. That information will be forwarded to the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY), which will act as the clearinghouse. REBNY can be reached at 212-532-3100.

In addition, The National Association of Industrial & Office Properties has set up a Disaster Relief Fund within its Research Foundation, a 501c(3) charitable organization. The fund will be used exclusively to benefit those affected by the tragic events of last week. The National Board of Directors has authorized a contribution of $100,000 to seed the fund, which has set a goal of raising $1 million.

"America is more than a geographical location, cities and buildings. The real America is people, families and communities," said NAIOP President Thomas J. Bisacquino. "NAIOP is proud to provide a way for the development community to speak with one voice and make a valuable contribution to rebuilding America — the real America."

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