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Scrambling to stabilize business operations formerly lodged in and around the World Trade Center, city and state officials are leaving no brick unturned. Shortly after the attack, Human Resource Administration Commissioner Jason Turner offered up his agency’s administrative office space at 180 Water Street.

Calling the 25-story, 430,000 square foot space “suitable for a financial institution,” Mayor Giuliani offered the space to the first taker a few days after the disaster. By early October, Lehman Brothers was reportedly in negotiations for the offices.

Once headquarters for Manufacturer’s Hanover Trust, the space became the leased home of the city’s welfare agency in 1998. About 2,000 agency employees work out of Water Street, including the commissioner and HRA administrators handling everything from budget, contracts and legal affairs to staffing and general support services. A small assistance unit, the Seaport Job Center, is based there, and now, the ever-crowded Twin Towers Support Center.

Nothing will be disrupted by the move, promises HRA spokesperson Deborah Sproles. If the building’s owner, leases the property to a financial firm, those staffers would relocate a few blocks north of City Hall to HRA offices at 220 and 250 Church Street.

By doing what the agency can, says Sproles, “It means keeping businesses here in New York City that may potentially hire our clients.”

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