Friday, April 24, 2009

Ground Zero towers face 20 year delay, says report

Ground Zero towers face 20 year delay, says report

24 April, 2009

Richard Rogers and Norman Foster’s towers for New York’s Ground Zero site may not be completed for another 20 years, according to a leaked report commissioned by the city’s Port Authority

The report, by real estate consultant Cushman & Wakefield, claims the New York property market cannot support the extra 700,000sq m of commercial space that developer Larry Silverstein’s three towers would create on the 6.5ha site.

It suggests that Tower 3, by Rogers Stirk Harbour, would not be built until 2030, finally being fully let in 2037, while Tower 2, by Foster’s, could be built by 2013 and not be fully let until 2026.

Work on the third tower, by Japanese architect Fumihiko Maki, has started on site, as has that on SOM’s Freedom Tower, now being developed by the Port Authority.

Despina Katsikakis, group chairman of office specialist DEGW, called the report a wake-up call for the industry.

“The whole building industry needs to rethink what the role of office space is,” she said.

“Maybe because New York has been at the forefront of this recession, the messages are coming out of there first. But how much of Canary Wharf will be empty? How much of London’s planned office buildings are really needed in their current manifestations?”

The Port Authority, which leases the World Trade Centre site to Silverstein, commissioned the report after Silverstein reportedly asked the organisation to act as “backstop” on a financial agreement for the buildings.

Foster’s and Rogers’ towers had already been delayed indefinitely after the authority failed to prepare and hand over the construction site according to the schedule agreed with Silverstein.

Rogers Stirk Harbour and Foster’s both refused to comment, but Janno Lieber, president of Silverstein’s World Trade Centre Properties, said: “Our view — and that of city leaders and many other experts — is that New York will bounce back strongly over the next five years while we are building”.