updated 1/4/2005 10:29:35 AM ET 2005-01-04T15:29:35

Brokerage giant Morgan Stanley will move into newly leased office space in lower Manhattan this summer, returning to the neighborhood for the first time since its World Trade Center offices were destroyed in the Sept. 11 attack.

The bank has leased 447,000 square feet of space on six floors at 1 New York Plaza, said Andrew Walton, a Morgan Stanley spokesman. It leased the space from Wachovia bank, which will leave the building this month.

Morgan Stanley will move some 1,450 employees from midtown Manhattan to the new space downtown beginning in June. It will be the company's second-largest office in New York City, after its headquarters in midtown.

The company employed about 3,700 people at its offices in the World Trade Center before the 2001 attacks. After the towers fell, it moved to various offices in midtown and the suburbs, including Harrison, N.Y.

More than three years after the attacks, office rents downtown remain significantly lower than those in midtown. The average downtown rent is $30.15 per square foot, and the vacancy rate is 15.8 percent, according to real estate broker CB Richard Ellis.

Midtown rents, by comparison, stand at $50.29 per square foot, and the vacancy rate is 10.7 percent.

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