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Monday, 22 October, 2001, 16:20 GMT 17:20 UK
Tenants desert Empire State Building
View to the south from the 76th floor of the Empire State Building
The view is a sad reminder of the attacks
David Schepp

Real-estate developer Richard Aryeh has a splendid view to the south from his office on the 76th floor of the Empire State Building.

Following the terror strikes on the World Trade Center, however, he is not sure that his business, Lionheart Enterprise, will survive the attacks.

View to the east from Penn Station to Empire State Building
The building's central location brings throngs of tourists
"I would consider leaving - primarily for keeping the company alive," Mr Aryeh told BBC News Online.

"If I don't have employees coming to work, or if I don't have clients coming to visit me, then I'm going to have to reconsider my stay here."

Six weeks after the attacks, north winds still bring the stench from the smouldering ruins of the towers through Lionheart's windows - nearly 1,000 feet in the air.

While Mr Aryeh may be pondering his next move, plenty of others have already opted to leave the Empire State Building.

Eager to leave

Tenants at Manhattan's now - again - tallest skyscraper are eager to find less conspicuous digs, following the terror attacks on the Twin Towers.

I've tried to move to a lower floor, but it's not been possible

Attorney Ajay Arora

Rising 1,250 feet in the air, the Empire State Building, itself a victim of a plane crash in the waning days of World War II, has been transformed by the 11 September attacks.

At least 16 of the 180 companies located in the 102-storey building have left or are pursuing departure.

While the view may be breathtaking, for those who gazed upon the burning World Trade Towers, just two miles south, on 11 September, the memories are too much to bear.

"We lost two employees," says Amy Boyle, an account executive at Global Impact Communication, a public-relations firm on the 69th floor of the Empire State Building.

"One simply never showed up after 11 September. The other left a couple of weeks later and never came back.

"Others feel anxious, and we can't afford to lose anybody else. We are trying to move out."

Trying to move

That anxiety is shared by Ajay Arora, an attorney with a small one-window office on the nearly deserted 77th floor, which he rented on 1 September - just 10 days before the attacks.

Richard Aryeh, president, Lionheart Enterprise Ltd
Richard Aryeh says events have attacked his bottom line

While Mr Arora's business has not been affected by the attacks, a few of his clients have expressed a desire his business was elsewhere.

"I've tried to move to a lower floor, but it's not been possible," he says.

"I can't afford to break the lease, so I've come to accept the idea that I have to stay."

Others are not quite so resigned. Some businesses have moved from the building, breaking leases in a frantic need to find what they believe to be safer confines.

Moving out, moving on

"We've seen an increase in the number of calls in the Empire State Building," says Hector Reyes, marketing manager for Samson Moving, which has been "extremely busy" since 11 September.

Emergency action plan video for Empire State Building tenants
Tenants have been issued an emergency action plan

The firm has received up to 50 phone calls in the last few weeks from Empire State Building tenants who wish to leave.

"We've seen an increase this month [that is] astronomical", Mr Reyes says, adding that his firm has already moved "many" people out.

"Not that we want to make a profit on this - because we don't. We really just want to provide a service for people."

Beefed-up security

Tourists who have visited the Empire State Building before and after the attacks can tell a story of two wholly different experiences.

Once a free-access building, the Empire State Building now has a lobby security system akin to those seen in airports, replete with X-ray machines and metal detectors.

In addition, a dozen police officers now patrol the perimeter of the building, and parking alongside the skyscraper is forbidden.

Building management, however, remains confident in the building's ability to draw tenants.

"The Empire State Building has weathered many a tough storm since it opened at the height of the Depression," says building spokesman Howard Rubenstein.

"We believe people will overall remain confident in the strength and resilience of the building."

See also:

14 Oct 01 | Middle East
Kuwait disowns Bin Laden aide
21 Sep 01 | Business
What is the future for skyscrapers?
13 Sep 01 | Scotland
Missing son phoned from skyscraper
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