Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Rebuilding of Ground Zero, Part 152

Once again, rebuilding at Ground Zero is threatening to come to a screeching halt. This time, Larry Silverstein is warning that rebuilding of 3WTC, which was designed by Richard Rogers, would be capped at a stump of 7 stories, because he can't find tenants and wont build it out on spec.
The discussions with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the lower Manhattan site, are based on a 2010 agreement that required the developer to have private financing and an anchor tenant in place, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private. Meeting those conditions would qualify the project for financial support from the agency, as well as the city and state.

Finding one or more anchor tenants for at least 400,000 square feet (37,000 square meters), as required, has proved tougher than anticipated as New York’s financial companies reduce staff and cut back on their space needs. The tower, designed by Richard Rogers, the Pritzker Prize-winning British architect, is designed to have 2.8 million square feet, according to Silverstein Properties Inc.’s website.

Silverstein said in a statement today that he remains “100 percent committed and determined to build 3 World Trade Center to the top as quickly as possible.” The developer is “fully optimistic” that he can sign a lease in time to complete the tower in 2015, as scheduled, he said.

Steve Coleman, a Port Authority spokesman, declined to comment.

The plans are flexible enough that Silverstein could reverse the capping of the building should he meet the tenant and financing requirements, said the people familiar with the discussions.
Crain’s New York Business reported the talks on its website Sunday.
While Silverstein could resume construction, it would mean that the area around the WTC site would remain a construction zone for the foreseeable future, and that would further mean that access to the WTC memorial would be constricted due to the ongoing construction of the adjacent areas.

2 WTC, designed by Sir Norman Foster, will only be built to street level at this time, because of a lack of tenants for that tower. 2 WTC would be the second tallest building on the site, and that means that at this point, only two of the four skyscrapers would be completed within the next two years.

That follows numerous reports showing that the Port Authority is having all kinds of issues with one of its steel fabricators, involving cost overruns and change orders that threatens to derail topping out 4WTC. For the moment, steel deliveries continue, but that could change depending on the resolution with the fabricator.

Then, there's the whole mess with the ongoing fight between the Port Authority and the WTC Memorial/Museum Foundation over who owes who how much. Construction to finish the museum has ground to a halt, and the opening date has been pushed back into 2013 from its September 2012 projected opening date. The Port Authority is also falling further behind on construction of the PATH transit hub, to say nothing of the out-of-control costs associated with that project.

The Foundation is back in the news after the Record reported that the salaries of top officials soared in 2011. Those defending the salaries claim that they are in line with other nonprofits, though critics will note that these employees are making money off the terror attacks.
Seven other executives, whose offices overlooked last year's Occupy Wall Street protest in Zuccotti Park, made more than $200,000 at the non-profit, and its president made $378,000.

Some vocal Sept. 11 victims' family members have criticized the compensation as excessive and say the federal government should not hand over taxpayer money without requiring transparency and tighter financial controls.

The foundation is asking federal lawmakers to support proposed legislation that would provide the non-profit with $20 million annually to run the site, or about one-third of its operating budget.

Jimmy Riches, a former New York City deputy fire chief whose 29-year-old firefighter son died in the north tower, said the memorial foundation has become a "commercial enterprise" and he likened Gerner's contract to that of a professional athlete.

"Who is she, Kobe Bryant?" he said. "What they're doing is making money off 9/11. People donate money to 9/11, and they're lining their pockets with it. This is totally wrong, and I think it's disrespectful to people who died."

Foundation officials say the salaries are in line with similar institutions.

"The employee compensation we offer is both competitive and comparable to other similarly situated non-profits," Joe Daniels, the foundation's president, said in a prepared statement. "I couldn't be prouder of the commitment and professionalism of the memorial staff."
Considering that the Foundation continues having issues raising the necessary funds to operate, finding ways to reduce its costs and benefit structure would be in order. Yet, the organization is not taking those steps, and is instead looking for a handout to keep the salaries at their current levels.

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