Saturday, April 24, 2010

The Rebuilding of Ground Zero, Part 101

For the longest time, the New York Times reported that the Freedom Tower was going to be a white elephant, that it would create an office space glut (all while demurring on the fact that the New York Times was a real estate business worried about leasing its new office building in midtown and that the competition from downtown might affect its business interests).

Now, it turns out that as the Freedom Tower (1WTC) rises skyward, the leasing at the Freedom Tower is picking up.
The Port Authority and its advisers at Cushman & Wakefield are pitching it as the most modern addition to the city’s skyline, with first-class restaurants and an observatory at the top that will attract business leaders and tourists alike.

The developers seem to agree. Even Douglas Durst, the chairman of the Durst Organization, whose family opposed both the original World Trade Center and the version being built, has jumped into the competition for the tower, along with Hines, an international real estate developer, and Mortimer B. Zuckerman, the chairman of Boston Properties and the owner of The Daily News.

Vornado Realty Trust, a publicly traded company, and Brookfield Properties, the largest downtown landlord, have already been eliminated from the competition.

The competing developers acknowledge the immediate challenge of finding enough tenants for the building. But they say that a stake in 1 World Trade Center is a long-term investment in the future of the building and of Lower Manhattan. They said they were confident the area would rebound as both a residential and a commercial community, and some said they were also seeking the cachet of being associated with an internationally known skyscraper.

“You have to take a patient approach to your capital on this,” said Tommy Craig, a senior vice president for Hines. “It’s possible to structure the investment so that the risk that’s inherent is potentially offset by the return opportunities.”

One World Trade Center was a centerpiece of the master plan drawn up in 2003 by the architect Daniel Libeskind. Gov. George E. Pataki added to its patriotic patina by dubbing it the Freedom Tower. David M. Childs of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill turned the drawing into a glass tower. But after the Police Department raised security concerns, he was forced to redesign it in 2005.
Workers are now cladding one of the two memorial fountains in granite and other work on the memorials is proceeding. Work also continues at the Fiterman Hall site on preparing for new construction.  Demolition also continues on the former Deutsche Bank building, although the pace of the deconstruction remains painfully slow. Here's a webcam overview of the construction at Ground Zero.

At the same time, workers are sifting through debris carted away from the worksite in an effort to locate more remains from the 9/11 attacks.

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