Tuesday, February 02, 2010

The Rebuilding of Ground Zero, Part 92

A recent decision by an arbitrator to refuse to give Larry Silverstein billions of dollars in compensation because of missed opportunities to secure financing was just one part of a larger problem. Construction is progressing at Ground Zero, but the continuing mess that is the former Deutsche Bank building demolition looms ever larger.

The building has to be demolished before construction can proceed on the Ground Zero Vehicle Security Center. Without that center, businesses wont be able to conduct business through the rest of the site even if the office towers are built.
But the VSC situation might be the most meaningful, and ominous, of all.

The VSC, one of several projects for which the PA is responsible, won't be finished until late 2013, according to a confidential PA report cited by the arbitrators.

The further delay in that already twice-delayed job gives Silverstein reason -- or an excuse, depending on your point of view -- for not wanting to build his towers any time soon.

Without the VSC, trucks won't be able to get to them, thus making lease-up and servicing impossible.

After all, why put up towers costing $1 billion each with no certainty they could actually be used?

According to the 2006 master development agreement between Silverstein and the PA, the VSC was supposed to be done by February 2011. Then, PA Executive Director Chris Ward's "Roadmap" of October 2008 moved the "target" to finish the VSC back to early 2012.

But that report also said the VSC's "probabilistic" -- i.e., more likely -- completion was the third quarter of that year.

Now, the arbitrators have bared a confidential PA analysis stating that the VSC won't be finished until September 2013. (The PA apparently regarded all previous targets as "aspirational," a level of fantasy even beyond "probabilistic.")
No one is going to want to take leases on office space if they can't actually stock the offices or maintain their daily operations if they can't get the daily supplies through a non-existent VSC. Those delays continue mounting and the interminable delay in demolition is taking its toll on Silverstein to secure leases for the office towers he's supposed to build.

It now appears that taking down a single floor every few weeks is overly optimistic - and there are 20+ floors remaining on the site.

It's little wonder that the construction schedules are all out of kilter for the 3 and 4 WTC sites; there's little impetus to move ahead when the LMDC and Port Authority can't guarantee a start date on the VSC (let alone a completion date).

Meanwhile, New York City is again sifting through debris from Ground Zero to look for remains of those murdered in the 9/11 attacks.
Anthropologists and other forensic experts will hand-sift 844 cubic yards of soil and other material - about the amount that fits in a dump truck - that was gathered since December 2007 from various sites around Ground Zero. A prior sifting operation resulted in identifying 27 additional victims.

To date, 1,629 victims of the World Trade Center attacks have been identified, out of 2,752 killed.

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