Manhattan Builders Plan Big Decade for Towers

Dropping vacancy rates and rising Class A rents are drawing enthusiastic, even speculative, plans from Big Apple developers

More than 25 million square feet of projects are under construction in Manhattan or may be built in the next nine years, according to brokerage Cassidy Turley. Some developers may proceed without lease agreements.

Builders and brokers say New York City is ready for the boom, citing corporate appetite for the latest in comfort, energy efficiency and technological capability in an area where more than 60 percent of buildings are at least half a century old. The Manhattan office-vacancy rate fell to 12.2% as of April 30, after peaking at 13.5% in March of last year, according to Cassidy Turley. That compares with a low of 6.7% in September 2007. Class A rents -- rates at the highest-quality buildings that would be most similar to the new towers -- rose for a seventh month in April to $59.65 a square foot. The record was $88.37 in May 2008.

(More on commercial real estate construction in Manhattan . . . )