View Poll Results: Construction is underway, how do you feel about the final design for the WTC site?

Voters
192. You may not vote on this poll
  • I am more than satisfied; I believe that the final design surpasses that of the original World Trade Center. 10/10

    50 26.04%
  • While nothing may ever live up to the Twin Towers, I am wholly satisfied with the new World Trade Center; it is a new symbol for a new era. 7/10

    55 28.65%
  • I have come to terms with the new World Trade Center; although it has a number of flaws, I find the design to be acceptable. 5/10

    48 25.00%
  • I am wholly disappointed with the New World Trade Center; we will live to regret the final design. 0/10

    22 11.46%
  • I am biased, but honest, and hate anything that is not a reincarnation of the original Twin Towers.

    17 8.85%
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Thread: World Trade Center Developments

  1. #256

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    Alright, might be stating the obvious here...but isn't the reason for the 1,776 ft. tower is that it's the year of independence...the declaration of etc.? Perhaps this was already discussed. If so, pardon my oversight...just a NYC loving Canadian!!! :wink:

  2. #257

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    Hey Stockton...no one ever expected these wackos to slam a couple planes into the towers...they have ways of creating all kinds of havoc! There's gotta be a million metaphors...."necessity is the mother of invention"..."will there's a way" etc. Don't underestimate the resource of these scumbags. I'm sure security throughout the construction process will be top of mind for everyone...NYC rocks!

  3. #258
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    tribeca, you are correct. I am sure that those putting their money and hard work up to build the new 1776 tower will be thinking all the angles.

  4. #259

  5. #260

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    The World Trade Center

    Premature Hand-Wringing: Ground Zero's (Non-)Revisions

    By Martin C. Pedersen, Metropolis Executive Editor


    The "redefined" WTC site master plan.

    So, is Daniel Libeskind's World Trade Center site plan in danger of being modified beyond recognition--as the New York Times and New York Newsday suggested last week--or has it remained virtually intact? This was the question the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC) tried to answer at a recent press conference.

    A day before the event, the agency sent out an email release with a rather intriguing headline: "LMDC to Present Revisions to the Master Site Plan." The word "revision" in this context seemed to cynical observers (i.e. everyone who follows the process closely) like the ultimate red flag. It may also explain why LMDC headquarters was standing-room-only the following day. A bank of TV cameras (I counted fourteen) lined the back of the conference room. Even Herbert Muschamp, architecture critic of the New York Times, showed up, sniffing news.

    And what did we learn? I feel odd writing this, but based on the evidence offered--a dreary PowerPoint presentation that even the perpetually effusive Libeskind couldn't enliven, a revised Ground Zero model, and comments from high-ranking Port Authority and LMDC officials--it appears that most major elements of the plan remain (gulp) intact.

    "The single most important thing to note today is that the plan Daniel Libeskind presented to the world is unchanged," said Roland Betts, an LMDC board member and one of the organization's most influential voices. "There are revisions and improvements, but the fundamental plan has gotten cleaner, clearer, better."

    While I wouldn't go that far (Who knew about the mammoth waterfall that was recently added to the scheme as an "acoustical barrier"?), it is fair to say that "Memory Foundations" (Libeskind's cornball name for the plan) still possesses the same signature elements introduced in February: a 1776-foot tower, a below-grade memorial area, a section of the slurry wall exposed to bedrock, ten million square feet of office space, a cultural building for an unspecified group that is to be used as a physical buffer between sacred ground and bustling street, and Greenwich and Fulton Streets routed through the site (the last courtesy of former LMDC VP of Planning, Design and Development Alex Garvin--and by way of Jane Jacobs).

    Most of the announced revisions involved below-grade infrastructure: truck ramps and security posts were moved out of the memorial area and the Port Authority added an extra track to its temporary PATH station. Retail has been dispersed onto five levels: one at grade, two below, two above. (Never mind that above-grade retail has a poor track record in the United States, or that Westfield, the mall developer formally attached to the site, pulled out last week.)

    The New York Times didn't exactly get the story wrong the following day. Edward Wyatt spun his piece to accentuate changes to the plan: slimmer, taller office towers (which won't be designed by Libeskind anyway), a new park on the southern end of the site, and a revised retail scheme. Wyatt had his facts right, but I think he failed to understand a fundamental truth about site planning: Change is part of the process. No project of this size and complexity, with this many competing interests, can possibly remain static. Libeskind was quite forthcoming about future revisions. At one point, a reporter pressed him on whether the amount of slurry wall exposed to bedrock (a symbolic issue for family members) was "set in stone," and he replied, "Nothing is set in stone but death."

    Even if Libeskind is wildly successful in preserving core elements of the plan, there are still literally hundreds of compromises ahead. And they won't necessarily doom his plan. If the plan is strong, it will survive revision. In fact, a measure of its ultimate strength will be its ability to accommodate change.

    This doesn't mean that the plan is perfect--it's still the product of a flawed program, driven by lease agreements signed prior to 9-11--or that there aren't real threats to it. Nevertheless, the idea that the Libeskind plan has been revised beyond recognition is nonsense. For me, the scale model was convincing proof. "Jesus, that's the same model that's been hanging around their studio for the past three months," said a close observer of the process, when the visual device was hauled into the conference room. Exactly. And I think that was the real story.


    The redefined ground-floor plan for the WTC buildings.


    Can you spot the differences?

    www.metropolismag.com

  6. #261

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    Time Granted in Dispute Over Insurance for 9/11 Site

    By CHARLES V. BAGLI

    The developer Larry A. Silverstein, who controls the commercial leases at the World Trade Center site, and the Port Authority have one month to settle their dispute with a lender over insurance proceeds needed to rebuild the complex.

    At the urging of Justice Herman Cahn of State Supreme Court in Manhattan, GMAC Commercial Mortgage Corporation agreed to release about $25 million in insurance money for rent due Oct. 1 while negotiations continue among the company, Mr. Silverstein and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the owner of the site. Justice Cahn asked the parties to return to court on Oct. 21. If they fail to reach an agreement, a lawsuit by GMAC against the Port Authority and Mr. Silverstein presumably would proceed.

    Mr. Silverstein and the Port Authority have recently said that they wanted to buy out GMAC's loan on the commercial leases at the trade center. Mr. Silverstein and his partners still owe about $549 million on the $563 million loan, although a settlement could involve a premium for early payment.

    "We are in agreement with the Port Authority that paying off the GMAC loan will accelerate rebuilding," Mr. Silverstein said in a statement released yesterday. "We are working closely with the Port Authority to come to an agreement to pay off the GMAC loan."

    GMAC sued Mr. Silverstein and the Port Authority over the loan earlier this month, proposing to freeze all payments to the developer, a move that Mr. Silverstein said would have "catastrophic" consequences on the rebuilding effort. Over the past nine months, GMAC has refused to release any insurance proceeds for Mr. Silverstein's architects.

    Meanwhile, Mr. Silverstein is waging a separate court battle with his insurers, claiming that the destruction of the trade center was the result of two distinct and separate attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, entitling him to a double insurance payment of nearly $7 billion. The insurers contend he should get only $3.5 billion.

    So far, the insurers at the trade center have put about $1.9 billion into an escrow account controlled by GMAC; about $600 million has been spent. GMAC has wanted Mr. Silverstein to agree to segregate some of the money to cover the loan. Its attempt to freeze payments to Mr. Silverstein forced the issue. GMAC says it is not demanding that the loan be completely repaid, although it is not opposed to that, either.

    The loan was converted to a security and sold to investors, who must approve any deal.

    H. Peter Haveles, a lawyer for GMAC, said: "As of right now, GMAC has not received any proposal from either Silverstein or the Port Authority as to how to resolve this matter. GMAC consented at the suggestion of the court to release one month of expense money to see if Silverstein can come forth with a proposal to resolve the matter, as they've repeatedly told the press they wish to do."


    Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

  7. #262

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    The Money Pit

    Cost of rebuilding the World Trade Center skyrocketing


    By Graham Rayman and Katia Hetter
    STAFF WRITERS

    September 29, 2003

    When federal, state and local government officials agreed to spend billions to rebuild the World Trade Center site, they signed on to repair damage to infrastructure and transportation in an effort to spark private reinvestment in the area.

    Over the past two years, that original scope expanded to include a range of other expenditures that could reach $1 billion. In the past two months alone, the Port Authority has agreed to spend a sum that could climb above $500 million just to buy out major players in the planning process, including:

    Westfield America, for $140 million. The retail company was told it couldn't build a huge underground shopping mall at the site.

    Deutsche Bank, to allow a fifth tower to be built on its terrorism-damaged site. The cost is unknown, but demolition alone has been estimated at $230 million.

    The owners of the Milstein property, for an unknown cost.

    The Port Authority has also said it would consider buying out the $563-million mortgage loan Larry Silverstein took out to lease the trade center complex.

    The irony of the expenses, observers say, is that before Sept. 11, 2001, the Port Authority was trying to get out of the real estate business. Given the recent history, it's not out of the question that, for some time to come, government will be ponying up money for unforeseen expenses.

    "They now seem to be in the process of having to come up with the money to pay off everyone," said Beverly Willis, director of the Architectural Research Institute.

    Dan Doctoroff, the city's deputy mayor for economic development and rebuilding, and a board member of the Lower Manhattan Development Corp., said the hope is short-term public investment will yield long-term gain.

    "Our role in lower Manhattan is to make the investments from the public sector to stimulate the largest possible reaction in the private sector," he said. "We made a fairly compelling case that it would trigger the private market. On the housing side, it's extraordinary: 2,000 units are under way, and another 3,000 units are under discussion."

    Angus Kress Gillespie, the author of a history of the World Trade Center, sees parallels between the current rebuilding and the original project.

    "The sheer bigness of that project was not just a rational economic decision. It was a political decision to inspire and stimulate growth," he said. "Now we're faced with the task of rebuilding, history repeating itself. It can't just be an ordinary office building. It's got to have some symbolic punch ... Now the question is, who's going to pay?"

    The federal government has promised to supply $21 billion toward rebuilding, but as city Comptroller William Thompson Jr. recently reported, much of that money has yet to be allocated.

    The Port Authority may have to kick in more money if, for example, the Federal Transportation Administration opts not to fully fund the construction of a massive transit hub planned for the area.

    In addition, government may have to contribute substantial sums toward the rebuilding if Silverstein loses his battle with his insurers over whether he is entitled to a $3.5 billion or $7 billion payout, depending on whether the courts rule that the destruction of the towers constituted one or two terror attacks. Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled that the case should go to a jury - a decision that should drag out the dispute.

    "If he only gets $3.5 billion, there isn't going to be a whole lot of money for rebuilding the towers," said Jeremy Soffin of the Regional Plan Association.

    And conceivably, the Port Authority could still buy out Silverstein.

    In the past two years, two other big-ticket transportation projects that arguably have little to do with the site have been under consideration: having the planned Air Train link the Queens airports as well as lower Manhattan, and building an extension to the Long Island Rail Road.

    Despite the Bush administration's pledge, Gillespie said significant cost issues will soon affect the redevelopment.

    "The cupboard is bare," he said. "The state of New York has its problems, the state of New Jersey has its problems. So those cupboards are bare. A lot of people are looking at the Port Authority to bail this project out."

    The scope of rebuilding has also been broadened under the Liberty Bond program, a federal tax incentive program originally intended to spur new development in lower Manhattan but since extended to other parts of the city. Critics have suggested that financing commercial projects outside of lower Manhattan through the bond program, especially in midtown, actually could hamper lower Manhattan's recovery.

    While several lower Manhattan projects, like Silverstein's new 7 World Trade Center, have received Liberty Bond financing, a proposed Bank of New York building in Brooklyn also was recently approved. In addition, a proposed Bank of America building at West 42nd Street and Sixth Avenue appears close to receiving $650 million in the bonds. And developer Bruce Ratner is seeking Liberty Bond financing for the New York Times building at Eighth Avenue and 40th Street.

    Once the planning process for the trade center site is completed, talk will turn to the construction budget. The current estimate for the construction of the buildings is unknown, but early estimates are typically low. The original estimate for the construction of the Twin Towers was $575 million, but the final cost wound up at $1 billion, according to Jameson Doig, a Princeton professor who has written a book about the Port Authority.

    Gov. George Pataki's emphasis on speeding rebuilding may also cost government more because an accelerated construction schedule always means a bigger budget.

    Once construction is under way, the buildings will need tenants, and it is likely that government will be one of the site's biggest clients. Pataki has already committed to housing the offices of a number of state agencies in the Freedom Tower, the signature 1,776-foot tower planned for the site.

    This dynamic, too, recalls the history of the original trade center. In the 1970s, state agencies, including the Port Authority, leased space in the towers. Federal agencies stepped in as well.

    Some critics contend that the subsidies for the original trade center hurt the commercial market in lower Manhattan.

    "It's been well-publicized what the towers did to the market," Soffin said. "The same thing is possible now if you're putting a lot of subsidized space on market."

    Another unresolved question is how much the city will receive in payments from the site. When it was first built, the World Trade Center was exempt from city property taxes, but the state agreed to make payments to the city, which totaled about $28 million a year.

    When Silverstein took over, the city sought to triple that income, but the Port Authority balked. Mayor Rudolph Giuliani sued just before the attack, and the issue was never resolved.

    With the site in its current condition, the city has been losing money. In the recent adopted budget, the city says it expects just $1.7 million per year in revenue from the site through at least 2007.

    Doctoroff said the city is now discussing "an enhanced pilot payment" with the Port Authority.

    Meanwhile, the city will not pay for the buyouts of the Deutsche Bank and Milstein properties, Doctoroff said. Though the sites will likely receive Liberty Bond financing, Doctoroff said the owners of the new buildings will pay full city taxes.


    Copyright © 2003, Newsday, Inc.

  8. #263

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    From the Downtown Express http://www.downtownexpress.com/de_23/rampeonbuses.html

    Rampe on buses, Deutsche and Park Row

    By Josh Rogers

    The president of the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. said he has not ruled out building a tour bus garage under the World Trade Center memorial, but he thinks there will be enough room for buses at the preferred site across the street from the site.

    “We will not, and have not ruled out underneath the memorial area,” Kevin Rampe, L.M.D.C. president said Monday at a lunch meeting with Lower Manhattan community reporters.

    Rampe said Gov. George Pataki, who hired Rampe with the mayor’s approval, remains committed to keeping the buses away from the memorial, but all of the alternatives are still on the table. Rampe repeated his pledge not to allow commercial or retail space in the memorial section of the W.T.C. site

    He disputed estimates by the Port Authority that a bus garage underneath the Deutsche Bank site would only accommodate 40-50 buses and Rampe said that may turn out to be the best location. The Port has said previously they want enough space for 120 buses transporting visitors to the W.T.C. memorial.

    Last week, Anthony Cracchiolo, the director of capital projects at the P.A., estimated there would be space for 40 to 50 buses at the Deutsche building on Liberty St. Madelyn Wils, an L.M.D.C. director said Port and L.M.D.C. officials told her the same thing.

    After Rampe’s comment, Greg Trevor, a Port spokesperson, said Cracchiolo’s estimate was preliminary and the environmental studies about to get started will determine the correct number.

    Many family members of the Sept. 11 victims have agreed to allow the PATH commuter tracks to cross the “footprints” of the Twin Towers as they used to, but they have objected strongly to a bus garage anywhere underneath the memorial area and under the footprints especially.

    “We have been told the bus terminal will not be there,” said Lee Ielpi, whose son was a firefighter killed on 9/11. “ If they try and put it back, that would be atrocious.”

    Pataki has told family members that a garage under the memorial would be “awful.”

    Andrew Winters, the L.M.D.C.’s vice president of planning, said last week that a garage under the memorial would be studied as part of the environmental impact statement process, but it was not under serious consideration because of objections from family members.

    Wils she would be in favor of any garage that is big enough and not too expensive to build. “If it could work safely and environmentally and financially, it would be best to not put it under the memorial,” she said. “If it can’t work, then under the memorial area and over the PATH tracks may be the best place.”

    Site 26 in Battery Park City, which is immediately northwest of the W.T.C., is the third option under consideration for the underground garage. This site would require the construction of a second “bathtub” or slurry wall to protect the garage from the Hudson River.

    Rampe said he does not yet know the costs of the three sites under consideration. He said if Site 26 were selected, there would definitely be an underground entrance to the garage, because he doesn’t want diesel buses near the neighborhood ballfields. “We did look at an at-grade alternative and that just does not work,” Rampe said.

    Buses could get to the Site 26 garage either through the proposed Liberty St. truck entrance way and a tunnel under Vesey St. or from a possible tunnel under West St., Rampe said.

    Ielpi said he sympathizes with residents who want to get the buses off the street and thinks Site 26 may be the best solution. “I don’t think Deutsche Bank is a viable site size wise,” he said. “Site 26 is more viable. I think that’s going to be the one.”

    Rampe said discussions with the government entities about acquiring the Deutsche site and the Milstein Properties’ parking lot are proceeding well, although no decision has been made as to whether it will be the Port who will pay to acquire the sites.

    “All of the players are working together for the acquisition of the site and demolition of the building,” he said of the Deutsche. “It gets rid of a building that has been a blight on the neighborhood.”

    Deutsche remains locked in a legal dispute with some of its insurers who want the bank to repair rather than demolish the building. He said once the dispute is resolved and the building is acquired, demolition will take anywhere from one to three years to complete.

    He said Gov. Pataki’s idea of replacing the building’s black netting with a giant mural of architect Daniel Libeskind’s W.T.C. design is likely to be scrapped because it will cost between $500,000 and $1 million. “We may not. I don’t want to spend a lot of money on a mural if we’re going to take the building down,” Rampe said.

    He said next month there will be an announcement about opening up some of the streets surrounding the New York Stock Exchange on Wall and Broad Sts. He said the Big Board originally said the security measures couldn’t be loosened, but that after the L.M.D.C. hired an independent security consultant, exchange officials and police agreed to move the barriers closer to the building. “On Broad St. we’re moving a lot of that in so it’s closer to the exchange,” he said. He said the new plan will turn the area into better-looking, pedestrian-friendly streets.

    He said the exchange example could help convince the city to agree to reopen Park Row, which has been closed to pedestrians and cars since 2001. “I think we are constantly putting pressure on them,” Rampe said of the city. “We’d like to see them reopen it.”

    The street, which runs by police headquarters, is the main connection between Chinatown and the Civic Center, and residents and businesses on both sides of Police Plaza have said the closure has had a severe effect on them.

    Rampe said Libeskind’s proposed 150-foot waterfall adjacent to the memorial would be taken out of the design if the 13-member jury decides it does not fit in with whatever plan is selected. Exactly 5,200 artists or art teams made submissions for the memorial, which will be selected later this year. The guidelines told designers to assume the waterfall would be included, but Rampe and some juror members also made statements encouraging artists to be daring and break the rules.

    Rampe said the proposed cultural facilities around the memorial may be adjusted to accommodate the selected design. “Cultural buildings may have to move, museums may end up moving,” he said. “The key is to provide a context for the memorial.”

    On transportation, he said a link to J.F.K. airport and the Long Island Rail Road was a key priority and spoke highly of one of the more expensive options – a direct airport connection without a transfer. “One seat is what we’re focusing on,” Rampe said. “You can’t just build a connection. People are going to have to want to use it.”

    Rampe said calls to expand the L.M.D.C.’s jurisdiction above Houston St. to 14th St. were not wise. “The lines were drawn to have some bearing on the impact of Sept. 11…. I do think Houston St. is a rational line.”

    Josh@DowntownExpress.com

  9. #264

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    An interview with Kevin Rampe, president of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation

    September 30, 2003

    ARCHITECTURAL RECORD: Are you afraid you won’t be able to fill office spaces at the World Trade Center?

    Kevin Rampe: Our vacancy rate downtown is 12.5 percent, and that’s equivalent to midtown. For an area that suffered the worst terrorist attack in history, that’s pretty damn good. I have no fear whatsoever that we won’t fill the buildings. We’re building a 21st-century complex with state-of-the-art buildings and transit, all located near a site that is without equal. Within the decade, we’ll have a direct connection to Newark and Kennedy Airports. We’re putting $750 million into a telecommunications network. Lower Manhattan is poised to be the place to be.

    AR: What is the status of a proposed museum and cultural center downtown? How many square feet will it be? Will it include City Opera?

    KR: We have asked cultural institutions from around the world to share their interest and ideas. We have over 600,000 square feet. We’re continuing to work with the opera to see what opportunities there are. Nobody’s been assured a spot on the site, and there has been no commitment to anybody.

    AR: How will you prevent overcommercialization on the site?

    KR: I think the Libeskind plan does an excellent job by framing the memorial area with cultural buildings. We want to build a strong 24/7 community. Strong retail is important to that. There could be up to 1 million square feet of retail on the site. I think what’s important is that we provide a separation between the memorial areas and the retail areas. We’re working to make sure that happens.

    AR: Could a transportation hub harm existing landmark buildings?

    KR: We’re working closely with the community to maintain the historic character of Lower Manhattan. There are buildings that are going to be knocked down. But unless you consider architecture from the ’70s to be historic, it’s not a problem. We are trying to incorporate a landmark building, the Corbin Building, into the design.

    AR: Do you worry about conflicts between Daniel Libeskind and David Childs?

    KR: I think there’s going to inevitably be issues and conflicts, because they both have very strong ideas about what should be the concept for the Freedom Tower. But I think that’s what this process has been from the beginning. Conflict of ideas and the resolution of that.

    Sam Lubell

    http://archrecord.construction.com/n...30930rampe.asp

  10. #265

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    [quote="Christian Wieland"]The World Trade Center
    Can you spot the differences?

    The office buildings are taller? By the way, what will be office stories height.

  11. #266

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    October 8, 2003

    Money Troubles at Ground Zero

    There is an astonishing array of talent ready to rebuild the World Trade Center site. Six of the world's best architects have been asked to help design the project, with the possibility of other creative voices yet to come. What may not be easily available is the money for all their phenomenal creations.

    Several of the large pools of cash or bonds that once looked easily available for Lower Manhattan's revival now seem in danger of disappearing. At the top of that list is the insurance payment to Larry Silverstein, who holds the World Trade Center lease. Mr. Silverstein recently lost the latest round in his effort to get $7 billion, instead of the $3.5 billion the insurance group offered. Mr. Silverstein argues that since two airplanes hit the towers, there were two "events," while the insurers want to treat the assault as a single attack. The case is now set for a jury trial, which could tie up the money for some time.

    After this setback, however, Mr. Silverstein named three famous architects — Norman Foster of London, Jean Nouvel of Paris and Fumihiko Maki of Tokyo — to help map out long-term plans for the site. Mr. Silverstein called the timing a coincidence, but picking this renowned cast is also a signal that Mr. Silverstein wants to dazzle the public and presumably a jury about what could be built at the site.

    Mr. Silverstein has already hired David Childs for two buildings in the area. Then there is Santiago Calatrava, another world-famous architect doing the new transit hub for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The designers of the memorial at the site's center will be announced sometime in the next few weeks. And Daniel Libeskind, the master designer for the site, has the unenviable task of coordinating all these creative energies, a job more daunting with every announcement.

    It's time to start putting this architectural star power to concrete use. That means it's time for Mr. Silverstein and Swiss Re and other insurers to settle this case. Gov. George Pataki, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, business leaders and others with power over the downtown rebuilding should start putting pressure on both sides. Instead of paying lawyers, more money should be going to architects, engineers and construction workers.

    A second pot of money is the $1.2 billion in federal funds now at the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation. The mayor's people want it for beautification and housing to revive all of Lower Manhattan. Business interests prefer using it as a down payment on a quick train from downtown to Kennedy airport. Governor Pataki and John Whitehead, chairman of the development corporation, need to keep this money safe until they figure out its best use for ground zero. That means holding onto it until next April, when transit experts should report on whether a quick route to Kennedy and Long Island is feasible.

    There is also the increasingly vigorous debate about how best to use Liberty Bonds, for $5.1 billion in new commercial development, that Congress granted to help revive Lower Manhattan after Sept. 11. Instead of letting the bonds expire in 2004, New York's Congressional delegation should quickly convince colleagues in Washington that the city needs five more years, at least, to take advantage of the program.

    Finally, Mayor Bloomberg and Governor Pataki need to start working on the same page when it comes to rebuilding Lower Manhattan. The city seems focused on readying the Hudson Yards commercial development on Manhattan's West Side, with an emphasis on residential building downtown. Both developments deserve plenty of mixed use, and plenty of vitality 24 hours a day. But after Sept. 11, the priority, for now, has to be ground zero.


    Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

  12. #267

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    WTC rebuilder willing to reopen settlement talks
    Reuters, 10.08.03, 8:50 PM ET

    NEW YORK, Oct 8 (Reuters) - World Trade Center rebuilder Larry Silverstein said on Wednesday he was willing to reopen settlement talks with his insurers as an alternative to what promises to be another bruising court battle over whether they owe him $7 billion or half that amount.

    Getting the bigger sum is vital if the full 10 million square feet of office space that was destroyed is to be replaced. Silverstein says he needs virtually all of the $7 billion insurance pay-out he believes he is owed to re-create lower Manhattan's financial anchor.

    But insurers, led by Swiss Re and Travelers Property Casualty Corp. (nyse: TAPa - news - people) say they owe no more than $3.5 billion. And Swiss Re's head of its U.S. unit on Wednesday, citing the present value discount for cash, pegged the range at how much insurers were willing to pay at $2.2 billion to $3.5 billion.

    Pressure on the two sides to settle their differences over whether the lethal Sept. 11, 2001, air attacks were one event -- in which case the insurers owe Silverstein $3.5 billion -- or two occurrences -- which means Silverstein is owed $7 billion -- has grown recently. For example, the New York Times, in an editorial on Wednesday, urged the warring parties to settle out-of-court so that the "architectural star power" that has been hired can be put to work.

    Gov. George Pataki wants the first cornerstone to be laid next August. But money is a huge consideration. Silverstein, who leased the World Trade Center in July 2001 and thus has the right to rebuild, must pay the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey monthly rent. And he already has spent $100 million on a variety of costs, ranging from court fights to lobbying fees to hiring architects, engineers and planners.

    Howard Rubenstein, the spokesman for Silverstein, said his client was willing to try again to reach an out-of-court settlement although the insurers, in earlier talks, "produced no meaningful offers."

    Rubenstein explained: "Mr. Silverstein always is willing to discuss a settlement with the insurers so long as it leads to a full rebuilding at Ground Zero that realizes Daniel Libeskind's master plan, which New Yorkers expect and deserve."

    Libeskind is the Berlin-based architect whose plan for an underground memorial to the nearly 3,000 people who were killed that preserves the twin towers' vast footprint and a 1,776-foot-tall Freedom Tower was favored by Gov. George Pataki and Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Since Libeskind's design was chosen, Silverstein has added four more prominent architects to the team.

    Jacques Dubois, chief executive of Swiss Re's U.S. unit, made it clear that the insurers believed their case was strengthened by a recent decision by a federal appeals court. It denied Silverstein's request for a summary judgment and ruled a jury will have to decide whether the attacks on the towers were one event or two.

    "The court ruling made us feel even better about our position," Dubois said. "We've always said we'd be willing to have a settlement discussion within the framework of one occurrence...This is the policy he (Silverstein) wanted us to use."

    A Travelers spokesman was not immediately available.

    Copyright 2003, Reuters News Service

  13. #268

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    October 10, 2003

    Pataki Wants Insurance Settled so Trade Center Work Can Begin

    By CHARLES V. BAGLI

    Gov. George E. Pataki is attempting to forge a settlement between the developer Larry A. Silverstein and his insurers in their long-running battle over how much money will be available to rebuild the World Trade Center.

    The two sides have been locked in a bitter and expensive dispute in state and federal courts, with Mr. Silverstein, the site's main leaseholder, arguing that the two planes that flew into the trade center towers constitute two separate terrorist attacks, entitling him to nearly $7 billion in insurance payments. The two dozen insurance companies involved have said they are obligated to pay only the policy limit: $3.5 billion.

    But with a revised master plan for the 16-acre site now in hand and a recent setback in Mr. Silverstein's legal case, downtown executives say that Governor Pataki wants the issue resolved quickly so that rebuilding can proceed without more money being squandered on lawyers.

    At the governor's behest, Kevin Rampe, president of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, has met separately over the last 10 days with Mr. Silverstein and executives at Swiss Re, the largest insurer, to explore how the dispute can be resolved, according to executives who have been briefed. More meetings are planned.

    In case the insurers and the developer cannot reach an agreement on their own, Mr. Rampe has also sought to assemble a group of business and civic leaders who could act as "honest brokers," or arbitrators, the executives said.

    "The governor is committed to meeting the aggressive timetable he set out in April and in resolving any and all disputes quickly," said Molly Fullington, a spokeswoman for Mr. Pataki. She declined to discuss the settlement efforts, as did Mr. Rampe. Mr. Pataki has said he wants the cornerstone for the first building at the trade center to be laid next August.

    The two sides, however, showed no sign yesterday of embracing each other and ending the hostilities.

    "The insurers are holding the high cards here," said Barry Ostrager, a lawyer for Swiss Re. "Silverstein has been flimflamming everyone with visions of multibillion-dollar windfalls."

    Mr. Silverstein said yesterday that he favored intervention in the matter by Mr. Pataki or Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. "To the extent you can have serious negotiations with the insurance companies that can lead to an expeditious conclusion, everyone will be better off," he said.

    In the dispute, the insurance companies have depicted Mr. Silverstein as a rapacious developer, while he has portrayed the insurers, particularly Swiss Re, as desperate to escape their responsibility for "paying the full amount it will take to rebuild."

    Many analysts suggest that it would cost more than $7 billion to rebuild the commercial complex and billions more for a new transit center, memorial and museum.

    Fifteen months ago, Judge John S. Martin of the United State District Court asked the two sides to reach a settlement in a last-ditch attempt to avoid a trial. Swiss Re offered $1.8 billion on behalf of the insurance companies, while Mr. Silverstein wanted $5.7 billion. And last month, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit rejected Mr. Silverstein's argument that he was owed two insurance payouts as a matter of law, saying it was a matter for a jury trial.

    Rebuilding officials, meanwhile, have adopted a revised master plan, pushing the financing issue to the fore. "We've spent a lot of time posturing for legal issues and no time on rebuilding," said a senior official at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the trade center site. "We have to show some progress. I don't want to reach the third anniversary of the attack and it's still a big hole."

    So far, the insurers have paid out $1.9 billion, $600 million of which has been spent on rent, debt service, legal fees and other items.

    Jacques E. Dubois, chief executive of Swiss Re, said yesterday that his company remained "ready, willing and able to honor its contractual obligation to pay its share of the $3.5 billion as expenses are incurred." If Mr. Silverstein wants a lump sum payment, he said, the net present value of the claim would be about $2.3 billion. That is not a figure likely to win an agreement from Mr. Silverstein, downtown executives said.

    In another effort to move forward with rebuilding, the developer and the Port Authority are also trying to clear up disputes with Westfield America, the company that ran the retail mall at the trade center, and GMAC Commercial Mortgage Corporation, which lent Mr. Silverstein $563 million in the trade center deal.

    Last week, Port Authority executives told Mr. Silverstein that they were willing to buy out GMAC and Westfield, as he had urged, but only if the authority gained control of the retail operations. The authority does not want to turn over complete control to Mr. Silverstein, who would most likely sell the retail lease and pocket the profits.

    "It makes no sense to let Silverstein buy out Westfield so he can profit and eliminate, scale back or enlarge the retailing based on his financial interest," one executive said.


    Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

  14. #269

    Default

    Confirmation from the NY Post

    NY POST

    WTC TOWER WILL NOW TOP 2,000 FT.


    By WILLIAM NEUMAN

    October 10, 2003 -- Ground Zero's signature Freedom Tower will soar above 2,000 feet - well beyond the previously announced height of 1,776 feet - under a revised design being worked on by architect Daniel Libeskind, a rebuilding official said yesterday.

    Broadcasters who want to put an antenna on top of the tower have been pushing for a higher structure.

    "I appreciate the symbolism of 1,776, but the reception is better at 2,000 [feet]," said Roland Betts, a director of the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. who met with Libeskind and developer Larry Silverstein's architect, David Childs, to discuss work on the tower.

    "The issue of the height of the building is under discussion. It [the tower design] is evolving in a collaborative discussion with Libeskind and Childs."

    Libeskind's new drawings show the building rising to at least 2,000 feet - and as high as 2,100 feet, sources said.

    Silverstein, Childs and a coalition of broadcasters who want to pay for an antenna atop the tower have long wanted the building to rise to 2,000 feet or higher.

    The height comes down to simple economics for the broadcasters - who once operated from the original World Trade Center - since the taller the antenna, the greater the number of households it can reach.

    Adding to the height of the tower could also insure that it remains the world's tallest building for a longer period of time, even as other proposed sky-busting structures are built in the future.

    Libeskind has previously portrayed the symbolic 1,776-foot height of the Freedom Tower as a key part of his Ground Zero plan.

    But he has shown a willingness to alter elements of his master plan - most notably by moving the memorial area inside the trade center pit from bedrock, 70 feet below street level, to its current proposed location 30 feet down.

    Libeskind, who has never built a tall building, tried over the summer to force Silverstein to make him the lead architect on the signature tower, but agreed in the end to give design control to Childs and act as his collaborator.

    During a bargaining session with Childs and officials in July, Libeskind's wife and business partner, Nina, demonstrated the architect's attachment to the 1,776 symbolism when she threatened to have her husband walk away from the project, sources said.

  15. #270
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    This process and the "news reports" surrounding it are about as exciting as watching grass grow.

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