Date: Feb 12, 2001
Press Release Number: 16-2001
When Port Authority Real Estate Director Cherrie Nanninga enters her 88th floor office each day, she passes a model of the World Trade Center, a stark reminder that she is in charge of the largest real estate transaction in New York history.
The scale and complexity of the negotiations are astonishing. The complex has 10.4 million square feet of office space, 10 percent of all of the office space in downtown Manhattan. There are 400,000 square feet of stores selling upscale clothing, books and food - enough to keep Main Street bustling in a small town. And the world-famous landmark has offices for 40,000 workers.
\"It\'s a considerable challenge, and the task is comparable to the sale of a small city,\" Mrs. Nanninga said of the trade center net lease. \"But fortunately, there are a lot of good people working on it. The best way to maximize the value of the trade center is to just keep moving in the right direction.\"
\"Cherrie\'s dedication and business acumen have allowed this important real estate transaction to remain on track,\" said Port Authority Executive Director Robert E. Boyle. \"Through her leadership, she has made the World Trade Center a place where companies and retailers want to locate.\"
Mrs. Nanninga\'s focused, businesslike approach to the intense discussions on the trade center net lease is typical of her management style. And the trade center lease has been the biggest challenge of her career, which began as a bilingual Spanish teacher in Boston in the early 1970s and culminated when she joined the Port Authority in 1976 and quickly rose through the ranks.
As Real Estate Director, a position Mrs. Nanninga has held since 1996, the occupancy rate at the trade center has risen from 78 percent to a healthy 98 percent, retail soared in the trade center\'s mall, and available office space in the Newark Legal Center has nearly been filled.
Today, only about 250,000 of the 10.4 million square feet of office space in the trade center remains vacant. And the legal center has an occupancy rate of over 99 percent.
\"The challenge to me and the staff of the World Trade Center was to improve the service we provide to tenants, and to bolster our reputation in the marketplace,\" Mrs. Nanninga said. \"We\'ve been told by our tenants and the real estate industry that we have really turned this place around, and we are starting to believe it. But we continue to be very focused on our tenants\' needs.\"
Sales at the trade center\'s retail mall also have risen dramatically. In 1996, the mall\'s retail establishments averaged approximately $500 per square foot. Today, sales have doubled, and are expected to reach $900 per square foot by the end of this year, which is expected to make the trade center mall the third most profitable in the country. And major national retailers, such as Banana Republic, Coach and Godiva have opened stores in the trade center mall to cater to a daily audience of 40,000 employees and thousands of visitors. Many of these retailers indicate that their trade center stores are among their top sales producers in the country.
Overseeing the trade center would be more than enough for most people in Mrs. Nanninga\'s position. But she also is responsible for approximately 700 active leases at facilities ranging from the trade center to the Newark Legal Center to the Teleport on Staten Island. In addition, she manages the disposition of property no longer used by the Port Authority, including the Brooklyn Grain Terminal and Yonkers Industrial Park. She also handles the acquisition of property for Port Authority projects, including right-of-way for the AirTrain project at John F. Kennedy International Airport and land to expand the Howland Hook Marine Terminal on Staten Island.
Unlike many of her colleagues in the real estate profession, Mrs. Nanninga took an unusual career path to her current position. After graduating from California State University at Hayward in 1970, she was employed for one year as a secretary and for the next three years as a bilingual teacher in the Boston Public Schools.
In July 1976, Mrs. Nanninga joined the Port Authority as a financial analyst, and in 1979, got her first taste of real estate when she was promoted to property representative, responsible for the marketing and leasing of industrial properties. In November 1981, she left the Port Authority for a job as a senior planning analyst with Philip Morris Inc. She returned to the bistate agency in January 1985 and served as Assistant Manager of Financial Analysis, Manager of Capital and Long-Range Planning, and Assistant Director of Management and Budget. In 1993, she returned to the real estate field as Deputy Director of the World Trade Department. In 1996, the Port Authority decided to consolidate all of its real estate units under Mrs. Nanninga.
In addition to improving the trade center\'s occupancy rate and its retail offerings, Mrs. Nanninga also has positioned the World Trade Center as an integral part of the downtown Manhattan community. She was instrumental in the launch of \"Evening Stars,\" the outdoor summer festival of dance, music and theater, produced by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, that provides free entertainment in the trade center\'s outdoor Austin J. Tobin Plaza. This year, all of the World Trade Center\'s summer entertainment, including the \"Evening Stars\" series, attracted 300,000 people.
Mrs. Nanninga lives in Manhattan and Cutchogue, L.I. with her husband, Reno Cappello.