Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Rebuilding of Ground Zero, Part 160

Westfield Properties envisions opening up its retail center in 2015 after signing new agreements with the Port Authority.
After years of negotiation, Westfield (WDC.AX) last week signed a deal with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey for a $1.25 billion joint venture to lease the retail space at the World Trade Center.

Westfield, one of the world's biggest mall owners, said the first retailers for the redeveloped site could be announced by the first half of 2013, with an opening date set for March 2015.

Potential tenants of the rebuilt World Trade Center got a peak at what the new shopping area may look like during a trade conference in Las Vegas on Monday.

Westfield Co-Chief Executive Peter Lowy said 352,000 sq feet of shopping would be spread over three above-ground levels and two below ground.

Westfield is also entitled to operate another 90,000 sq feet of retail space among the 8.8 million sq feet of office space under construction.

Lowy said Westfield planned to be selective about possible tenants.

"We're going to do something that no one can imagine," Lowy told Reuters during the International Council of Shopping Centers annual convention, or RECon.
The mall would include space related to the PATH Transit Hub and the lower levels of 2, 3, and 4 WTC. One should note that before its destruction on 9/11, the WTC mall was one of the most profitable in the world on a per square footage basis, and there's no reason to think that the new retail center would not be successful.

In fact, neighboring Battery Park City's Brookfield Properties is renovating its Winter Garden and retail options to compete with the expected World Trade Center offerings.

Meanwhile, there's still a kerfuffle over where Fritz Koenig's The Sphere should be relocated. It has to be moved out of Battery Park City because of construction at the temporary location, and it should be relocated to the WTC Memorial, but the Memorial officials claim that there's no room for it. I find that preposterous considering that they could make room at any number of places on the site. It deserves to be relocated back at the site and it is a very visible reminder of the attacks as one of the enduring symbols to be recovered.

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