Originally Posted by Stern
1 MARCH 2001
The investment bankers Goldman Sachs are planning to replace the elevated plaza at 55 Water Street with a new addition including several large trading floors. The development would use air rights transferred all the way from the South Street Seaport district.
"To build the new 13-story, 750,000- square-foot [69,700 m²] trading structure, designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, Goldman Sachs would eliminate the elevated plaza and alter the north tower, adding 35 feet to its height. The trading floors would have 56,000 square feet [5,200 m²], an extraordinary amount of room in the cramped financial district."And as usual, the city and state will be milked for corporate welfare.
"The project's cost has been estimated at $850 million. The company might apply for financial incentives from the city and state. Completion of the building is expected at the end of 2004."
The banking firm has already leased spaces from a host of buildings across the Financial District.
"Besides the headquarters at 85 Broad Street, Goldman Sachs leases large blocks at 10 Hanover Square, 1 Liberty Plaza, 180 Maiden Lane, 1 New York Plaza, 32 Old Slip and 77 Water Street."
The company is proposing to provide funds for neighbourhood improvements.
"To make up for the loss of open space, Goldman Sachs would pay for $5 million in improvements nearby. It would furnish a 1,300-foot stretch of East River esplanade, from Old Slip to the Battery Maritime Building, with a bike path, a walkway and seating; landscape a barren public area in front of 55 Water Street; and contribute to the renovation of Vietnam Veterans Plaza on the south side of the tower."
A part of a futuristic plan, the plaza hasn't been a total success, not least due to owners' actions through the years.
"Fifty-four steps above street level — and even farther off the beaten path — the plaza is one of the largest privately owned public spaces in New York."
"Escalators to the plaza have frequently not worked in the past (and were not operating yesterday and Monday). In the 1980's, when 55 Water Street was owned by Olympia & York, stairways to the plaza were barricaded for years."
"Today, it is isolated, barren, usually deserted and sometimes downright scary. A concession stand has long since been boarded up and the fountains silenced."
(I can agree on the scary part, while taking the plaza image last May, I was definitely working faster than normally...)
But the residents in the 205 co-ops of the 3 Hanover Square are against the proposition, partly because of lost river views.
""It is somewhat ironic [...] that part of the reward for neglecting a public plaza is giving the ownership the right to not only eliminate the public space but to add a 750,000- square-foot building on the site.""
Source: The New York Times, 28 February 2001
The tower plans have been swiftly reversed and Goldman Sachs will let the lease fall through.
"The company's withdrawal puts 1.38 million square feet at 55 Water Street back on the market — more space than in the entire Chrysler Building. It will be vacated in 2003 by J. P. Morgan Chase & Company."
The owner of the building is expecting to get the space easily sold nevertheless:
"Other prospective tenants have already spoken up since Goldman Sachs made its decision known on Monday evening, said Edward J. Kulik Jr., the head of real estate for the Retirement Systems of Alabama, which manages the state's pension programs and owns 55 Water Street."
The owners haven't, however, completely ruled out a later-day tower addition to the plaza.
Source: The New York Times, 7 March 2001
TRIBECA TRIB JUNE 2002
Community Meeting June 26 on 55 Water St. Plaza Redesign
A year after Goldman Sachs abandoned its controversial plan to construct a building on the elevated public plaza behind 55 Water St., now the city’s most massive office tower, the complex’s owners have decided to redesign the plaza into "a vital destination that contributes to the cultural life of Lower Manhattan."
The owner, the Retirement System of Alabama, is sponsoring a design competition with the Municipal Art Society to come up with a plan to make the isolated, unadorned plaza into an attractive public amenity for Downtown residents, workers and tourists.
To solicit input from Downtown residents, the owner and the Municipal Art Society, together with Community Board 1 and the Alliance for Downtown New York, are hosting a community meeting on June 26 at 6 p.m., in the conference center on the concourse level of 55 Water St.
Residents are invited to hear the owner’s plans for the plaza and to share their input on what they would like to see in the 41,000-square-foot space, which commands views of the East River, the Brooklyn Bridge and Governor’s Island. Anyone interested in attending should contact Mandy Knox at the New Water Street Corp. (which manages the building for the owner), at 747-9120 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The deadline for preliminary submissions from architects and urban planners is July 8. Six finalists will be selected in July and given $10,000 stipends to come up with more refined plans by mid-September, and a winner will be chosen in late September. Construction is expected to begin in the spring of 2003.
More information on the project and the design competition can be found on the Municipal Art Society’s website.