WTC Development Deadline Extended, JFK Upgrades Planned

The board of governors of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey voted late last week to give Silverstein Properties Inc. additional time to complete World Trade Center Towers 3 and 4. The extension will allow SPI to continue to pursue Merrill Lynch as the sole tenant of Tower 3; Merrill Lynch’s specific needs (such as large trading floors) would require some redesign of Tower 3, including its foundation and that of Tower 4. CPN reported last week that Merrill Lynch, which is currently headquartered in the World Financial Center, across West Street from the WTC site, had resumed talks about moving its HQ into WTC Tower 3. And CPN had reported the previous week that JPMorgan Chase seemed to be backing away from its plans to build a $2 billion, 1.3 million-square-foot building, Tower 5, at the WTC site. JPMorgan Chase’s apparent change of heart has been assumed to be related to its acquisition of the troubled Bear Stearns. The extension granted by the port authority board provides SPI with an additional six months to complete Tower 3 and four more months to complete Tower 4, moving the completion dates to mid-2012 and spring 2012, respectively. The extension therefore modifies the 2006 master development agreement, which set deadlines for the completion of all elements of the WTC site. In its other action, the port authority board approved a $20 million planning study for the redevelopment of Terminals 2 and 3 at John F. Kennedy International Airport. The two terminals, completed in 1962 and 1960 respectively, are the airport’s oldest. Both terminals are operated by Delta Air Lines and between them handle more than 9 million of JFK’s 48 million annual travelers. The plan, which is a collaboration between the port authority and Delta, is scheduled to be completed late this year. “Kennedy Airport has undergone a nearly complete transformation in the last 15 years,” airport executive director Christopher O. Ward said in a prepared statement. “The redevelopment of these two terminals is the last key component of the central terminal area’s renaissance.” Since the early 1990s, the port authority has spent more than $9 billion on improvements at JFK, including new passenger terminals and parking garages and upgraded cargo facilities.