Summer Brings Progress, Challenges for WTC Renewal

As Labor Day nears, the effort to revitalize the World Trade Center has experienced significant forward motion as well as a few hitches. In the months to come, the massive rebuilding project is likely to show signs of progress as well as facing a series of difficult choices. Public agencies and private-sector interests swiftly addressed some of the 15 major challenges detailed June 30 by Christopher Ward, the recently appointed executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Ward, who addressed the New York Building Congress on Friday about the agency’s regional capital plans, warned that the World Trade Center’s projects face major delays and cost increases. The Port Authority is due to present follow-up assessment at the end of September. Ward immediately addressed one of the big challenges on July 1, announcing a redesign that will clip millions of dollars from the $2 billion transit hub designed by the renowned Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. Wrapping up another item on Ward’s to-do list, the Port Authority and St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church struck a deal last month that will allow the construction of the World Trade Center’s vehicle security center. The church will receive $20 million to relinquish the parcel at 155 Cedar Street where its building was located before it was destroyed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. That parcel is one of three necessary to build the underground structure nicknamed the “South Bathtub,” which will contain the vehicle security center. The church will be rebuilt nearby at 130 Liberty St. Authorities checked off yet another task Ward’s list last month when the Port Authority and New York City established a joint policing and security plan for the World Trade Center. Leasing for the World Trade Center’s five planned office towers has had mixed grades so far this summer. Freedom Tower, which will be the rebuilt center’s tallest structure at 1,776 feet, scored its first private-sector tenant in June. Beijing Vantone Real Estate Co. agreed to a 23-year lease 190,000 square feet on the 64th through the 69th floors of the 108-story tower. But last month, Silverstein Properties Inc. headed back to the drawing board in its search for a tenant to anchor Tower 3, the 71-story, 2.1 million-square-foot building located at 175 Street. On July 17 the Port Authority acknowledged that Merrill Lynch & Co. had decided against moving to Tower 3 (pictured) when its 2 million-square-foot lease at the nearby 4 World Financial Center expires in 2013.