New WTC Towers Ready for Construction

Construction is set to begin on two new towers at the World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan as the Port Authority, which owns the site, nears completion of basement excavations for the buildings, known as Towers 3 and 4. The Port Authority said it would complete the excavation of Tower 4 by the middle of this month, with basement work on Tower 3 (pictured) finishing up two to four weeks after that.

The announcement paves the way for Silverstein Properties, the developer of the actual towers themselves, to ramp up procurement and preconstruction work in anticipation of beginning work on the buildings in the near future. Silverstein expects to complete both towers sometime in 2011. Under terms of an agreement between the Port Authority and Silverstein, the Port Authority will pay $300,000 to Silverstein each day after Jan. 1, until the excavation of both towers is complete.

Though the Port Authority did not meet the Jan. 1 deadline, it said the costs of running past Jan. 1 will be largely offset by reduced payouts to its contractors. In addition, Silverstein will reinvest the payments into the ongoing construction efforts at the WTC site, which are expected to total some $16 billion.

“We appreciate how much the Port Authority has accomplished this year, and a few extra weeks to complete everything is a minor bump in the road in the context of this entire project,” Janno Lieber, director of World Trade Center development for Silverstein, said in a statement.

Under the development agreement covering the entire WTC site, Silverstein will be responsible for building Towers 2, 3 and 4, while the Port Authority will develop Tower 5 and the Freedom Tower, also known as 1 World Trade Center. Construction on the Freedom tower began last year, and is expected to reach above ground in the first half of 2008. Below-ground excavation on Tower 2 is expected to complete by the end of June.