Nine-Hundred Foot Tower Will Include 300-Plus Affordable Units
Above: The structure planned for Five World Trade Center (right) will include retail, office, and community uses, as well as 69 floors of rental apartments.
Below: A schematic rendering breaks out the various uses planned for the building.
The boards of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC) have both approved the proposal by a development partnership that wants to erect a 900-foot-plus tower at Five World Trade Center, a now-vacant lot that occupies the three-quarter-acre square block bounded by Liberty, Greenwich, Albany, and Washington Streets.
The joint venture consists of four partners: Silverstein Properties (which leases the rest of the World Trade Center site from the Port Authority), Brookfield Properties (which operates the Brookfield Place office and retail complex in Battery Park City, across the street from the World Trade Center), Omni New York (a developer, owner, and manager of affordable housing nationwide), and Dabar Development (a minority-and-women-owned real estate firm).
This partnership’s plan calls for a 78-floor building that will encompass 1.56 million square feet. The design consists of a lobby floor that incorporates 7,000 square feet of retail, topped by six stories of office space (enclosing 190,000 square feet, including 12,000 square feet of community space) and two floors of public amenity space (totaling 55,000 square feet), above which will sit 69 floors of rental units, comprising 1.2 million square feet of residential space.
Of the 1,325 apartments planned for the structure, 25 percent (or approximately 330 units) will be permanently affordable homes, set aside for households earning less than 50 percent of the area median income (AMI), or below $51,200 for a family of three. The Port Authority points out that this is a more generous standard than the City’s “mandatory inclusionary housing” guidelines, which allow owners of affordable rental units to collect up to 60 percent of AMI, and that the plan would create, “the most affordable units in a single building in Lower Manhattan.”
“The Port Authority’s dedication to rebuilding the World Trade Center has helped restore Lower Manhattan and brought life back to the campus following the September 11th attacks,” said Port Authority chair Kevin O’Toole. “Today’s board action to choose the development team for Five World Trade Center is the realization of a nearly two-decade long commitment to that work.”
“With this project, the LMDC will fulfill a central goal of its creation: to complete the rebuilding of the World Trade Center site,” said LMDC chair Holly Leicht. “This is the right capstone project for the campus, reinforcing Lower Manhattan as a live-work community and bringing much-needed affordable housing and a new community facility to the neighborhood.”
This view (from Albany and Greenwich Streets, looking toward the northwest) offers perspective on the mass of the 1.56-million square foot structure
No provision was announced at Friday’s Port Authority board meeting for Community Board 1 (CB1) to play a role in approving or modifying the project, as it customarily does for development proposals within the community, especially for those on publicly owned land. Nor was there any discussion of giving preference to people who already reside within the community in applying for the affordable apartments, as has been done in the past.
This seems to ignore one provision of a resolution enacted by CB1 in July, 2019, which noted that the Board, “and the affected communities around the World Trade Center campus would offer a more robust development opportunity and therefore we believe that our involvement is critical to the process.”
That noted, the plan appears to be responsive to other elements of CB1’s resolution, such as a call for affordable housing, and a request to, “strongly encourage respondents to include space dedicated to community needs and that respondents work with [CB1] to identify the types of amenities most needed in our fast-growing community.”
CB1 chair Tammy Meltzer responded to the designation of the developers by saying, “I am delighted to see plans for Five World Trade Center finally moving forward with the mixed-use plan, specifically with permanent affordable housing and public amenities, which Community Board 1 has been advocating for nearly two decades. It is imperative that this plan moves forward through thoughtful, community-based planning addressing how Five World Trade Center will integrate into the surrounding urban landscape.”
Ms. Meltzer added that the Greenwich South neighborhood, “has a very narrow street grid and we will need infrastructure improvements, more open streets, and underground bike and car parking to accommodate the new community this building will bring. CB1 is also inundated with event spaces; there are at least a dozen within the immediate vicinity. Community amenities such as farmer’s markets, green spaces, active and passive recreational spaces, and grocery and hardware stores would enrich the immediate area. We look forward to seeing how they can be incorporated into the project instead of an event space.”
State Assembly member Yuh-Line Niou remarked that, “it’s reassuring to see affordable housing at Five World Trade Center, but making a small percentage of a single building affordable does not solve our systemic housing problem. Our community deserves a transparent city planning process that actually incorporates community feedback into the process and guarantees accountability to local needs.”
“We can start by expanding the number of affordable housing units at Five World Trade Center,” she continued, “and ensuring that future development is truly and permanently deeply affordable. Too often, we see developers chasing big deals that are good for their profits but bad for the community. These plans ignore infrastructure like grocery stores and open public spaces in favor of event spaces and commercial tenants that pad developer profits.”
The site for Five World Trade Center (bounded by Liberty, Greenwich, Albany, and Washington Streets) was previously the home to the Deutsche Bank building, which was effectively wrecked by falling debris during the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and never reopened. In 2007, during demolition, it was the site of a blaze that killed two New York City firefighters.
State Senator Brian Kavanagh (who chairs the Housing Committee of the upper house of the Albany legislature) commented, “overall, I think the proposal is a positive step forward. I had called for the project to include much-needed housing for our community, particularly affordable housing, and I’m glad to see that’s part of the proposal. There’s also substantial community space.”
“There will now be a year-long process to amend the general project plan,” he added, “and I will work to ensure that process is transparent and comprehensive, and addresses the concerns of our community and all stakeholders.”
City Council member Margaret Chin said, “today, my office was briefed on the Port Authority’s project at Five World Trade Center. I am happy to see this iconic site in Lower Manhattan being rebuilt, and I was pleased to learn that residential units will be included, with 25 percent of the units designated as affordable. I will continue to advocate for permanent affordable units as the project moves into its next stages.”
Jessica Lappin, president of the Downtown Alliance, said, “the Port Authority’s decision marks yet another crucial step toward the completion of the World Trade Center site. With a developer named, there is a finish line in sight, and that progress stands as a testament to the strength of Lower Manhattan’s resilience.”
Todd Fine, president of the local preservation organization, Washington Street Advocacy Group, said, “if a completely affordable building were erected here, at this time of massive need, it would send a powerful message to the City, the country, and the world. But the decision to select Silverstein and Brookfield to build luxury apartments at the World Trade Center should be opposed by all New Yorkers. This action represents a betrayal of the core principles proposed at the start of the post-September 11 reconstruction. Initially, September 11 was described universally as ‘an attack on all New Yorkers,’ and in the dozens of public listening sessions in 2002 and 2003, New Yorkers frequently urged that if the World Trade Center reconstruction include housing, that it should be affordable, low-income housing. Promises made by agencies regarding public land were not kept.
“Any intention to change the World Trade Center general project plan to allow for luxury development needs much more public scrutiny and involvement,” he continued. “Additionally, there may be negative monopolistic effects from giving Brookfield and Silverstein so much power over both the residential and the commercial development in this area. The full transformation of the World Trade Center into the Hudson Yards-model could be a disaster.”
The site for Five World Trade Center has a troubled history. It was previously the location of the Deutsche Bank headquarters, but that building was largely wrecked by falling debris from the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and never reopened. As the building was being demolished in August, 2007, a fire broke out on the 17th story, spreading to ten floors. Firefighters became lost in a maze of polyethylene sheets, which had been installed to prevent the spread of asbestos as the hazardous substance was being removed, but had the effect of trapping smoke. When firefighters tried to activate the building’s standpipe (a form of indoor fire hydrant), they found it had been illegally cut. Two firefighters died inside the building, while 105 others were injured, and the contractor that was handling the demolition project was later investigated for ties to organized crime.
One of those firefighters was Lieutenant Joseph P. Graffagnino, aged 33. His father, Joseph A. Graffagnino, asked, “are they planning a plaque to those who have died and continue to die because our government lied to all of us to keep the stock market and finance centers open so millionaires and billionaires can maintain their lifestyle without disruption? I don’t understand how—in this time of COVID, protestors, looting, assaults and riots, where civilians and businesses are leaving New York City in the thousands, where the stock exchange is seeking a location out of New York, where both residential and office space has dropped like a boulder off the Empire State Building—they want to erect another building just to keep their dollars flowing. A hospital or school, I could understand. But office space and residential are unacceptable. In many promises, they vowed to help the survivors and local businesses become solvent. This is not the way to do it and this is not what the local people or businesses want. They certainly do not have my approval.”
To Broadsheet editor;
I read with interest your recent article about the design of the new park on Gansevoort Peninsula, but took issue with the following statement: “Plans call for a scenic beach (more for viewing the water than public bathing, owing to concerns about hygiene and safety)”.
The park will not come with a beach. It will instead come with a gloried sandpit that the Hudson River Park Trust is calling an upland beach. The only access point to the water will be via a narrow ramp, which will be a kayak launch. Whether the public will be allowed to walk down this ramp and touch the water has yet to be determined.
Local beaches need not create concerns about hygiene or safety. For example, the very popular little beach that is directly over the Hudson River from the Gansevoort Peninsula in Hoboken has had few issues. The same is true for the popular beach in Brooklyn Bridge Park that is on the opposite side of the East River from Lower Manhattan.
Manhattan is the most populated island in the world with no publicly accessible beach. Given the many tens of billions of dollars that have been spent cleaning up the harbor in recent decades, and the lack of recreational space on the island, this situation is far from ideal.
Established by African Americans after the Civil War, Nicodemus served as a “promised land” for formerly enslaved Africans. Join a park ranger from the African Burial Ground National Monument in New York to learn about the founding of Nicodemus, Kansas, the pioneering spirit of formerly enslaved peoples, and the role of this site in American history. Learn more in this virtual program. Free
A Shore Thing
HRPT Moves Ahead with Plans for ‘Beach,’ Park and Historic Sculpture for Gansevoort Peninsula
The Hudson River Park Trust (HRPT) has released a package of three requests for proposals (RFPs) intended to kickstart the process of transforming the Gansevoort Peninsula—a five-acre-plus chersonese that juts out from the West Side waterfront, between Gansevoort and West 13th Streets—into a new public amenity.
Plans call for a scenic beach (more for viewing the water than public bathing, owing to concerns about hygiene and safety), along with a 56,000-square-foot ballfield for use by local youth leagues, a playground, an outdoor “river gym” (consisting of rust-proof calisthenics equipment), a dog run, and public restrooms.
Suspect in Chambers Street Subway Stabbing Taken Into Custody
A suspect in the October murder of a man at the Chambers Street subway station of the J and Z trains (located beneath the Municipal Building and across the street from City Hall) has been taken into custody.
On Wednesday, officers from the NYPD’s Warrant Squad arrested 29-year-old Amado Garzon Morales, a resident of New Brunswick, New Jersey, who was tracked down in the Richmond Hill section of Queens.
State Attorney General Files Federal Suit Against Anti-Abortion Protestors
The New York State Attorney General, Leticia James, has filed suit in federal court to protect a Lower Manhattan-based nonprofit, Planned Parenthood, from harassment by anti-abortion protestors.
Planned Parenthood, based at 123 William Street, in the Financial District, provides reproductive health care throughout the United States, often to women living below the poverty line. To read more…
A Debt of Gratitude
City Council Candidate Argues Against Squeezing Schools
City Council candidate Christopher Marte led a February 4 rally on the steps of Tweed Courthouse (the headquarters of the City’s Department of Education, or DOE) to demand “budget amnesty” for public schools in the Downtown district he hopes to represent. To read more, click here.
Transit Hub Becomes Venue for Multiple Violent Crime
The Fulton Center subway and retail complex (at the corner of Broadway and Fulton Street) has been the scene of several violent assaults in recent days. On Friday, January 29, shortly after 11:00 pm, a gang of six young people (four male and two female) quietly entered the Dunkin Donuts location within the facility, and crept up behind a man who was placing an order at the counter. To read more…
CLASSIFIEDS & PERSONALS
Swaps & Trades, Respectable Employment, Lost and Found
Sounding A Lot Like the Leftists of 2011, Young Republicans Re-Occupy Zuccotti Park
On Sunday afternoon, several dozen members of the New York Young Republican Club gathered in the Financial District to protest alleged stock market manipulation by large traders, at the expense of individual investors.
No judgment for those of you who will want to drop those new year’s resolutions (or whatever other health kicks you’ve got going on) after reading this PSA:
NYC Restaurant Week launched this week, as hundreds of hot spots citywide have been lining up special delivery deals through February 28.
Promotions include lunch or dinner with a side for $20.21, two-course brunches and lunches ($26) and three-course dinners ($42), mostly Monday through Friday. (Some participating restaurants are honoring those prices on weekends.)
Dozens of restaurants south of Chambers Street plan to take part in NYC Restaurant Week, including Brooklyn Chop House, The Fulton, Crown Shy, Stone Street Tavern, The Dead Rabbit and more.
The Restaurant Week website lists several more tempting options to treat yourself — even if it means playing it a little fast and loose with your commitments to fitness. (We won’t tell.)
881 – Pope John VIII crowns Charles the Fat, the King of Italy: Holy Roman Emperor
1502 – Vasco da Gama sets sail from Lisbon on his second voyage to India.
1554 – A year after claiming the throne of England for nine days, Lady Jane Grey is beheaded for treason.
1912 – The Xuantong Emperor, the last Emperor of China, abdicates.
1924 – George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue received its premiere in a concert titled “An Experiment in Modern Music”, in Aeolian Hall, New York, by Paul Whiteman and his band, with Gershwin playing the piano.
1946 – World War II: Operation Deadlight ends after scuttling 121 of 154 captured U-boats.
1946 – African American Army veteran Isaac Woodard is severely beaten by a South Carolina police officer to the point where he loses his vision in both eyes. The incident later galvanizes the Civil Rights Movement and partially inspires Orson Welles’ film Touch of Evil.
1974 – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1970, is exiled from the Soviet Union.
1994 – Four thieves break into the National Gallery of Norway and steal Edvard Munch’s iconic painting The Scream.
1999 – Bill Clinton is acquitted by the Senate in his impeachment trial.
2001 – NEAR Shoemaker spacecraft touches down in the “saddle” region of 433 Eros, becoming the first spacecraft to land on an asteroid.
2004 –San Francisco begins issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in response to a directive from Mayor Gavin Newsom.
AD 41 – Britannicus, Roman son of Claudius (d. 55)
1218 – Kujo Yoritsune, Japanese shogun (d. 1256)
1606 – John Winthrop the Younger, English-American lawyer and politician, Governor of Connecticut (d. 1676)
1791 – Peter Cooper, American businessman and philanthropist, founded Cooper Union (d. 1883)
1809 – Charles Darwin, English geologist and theorist (d. 1882)
1809 – Abraham Lincoln, American lawyer and politician, 16th President of the United States (d. 1865)
1857 – Eugene Atget, French photographer (d. 1927)
1877 – Louis Renault, French engineer and businessman, co-founded Renault (d. 1944)
1904 – Ted Mack, American radio and television host (d. 1976)
1923 – Franco Zeffirelli, Italian director, producer, and politician
1938 – Judy Blume, Jewish-American author and educator
1804 – Immanuel Kant, German anthropologist, philosopher, and academic (b. 1724)
1942 – Grant Wood, American painter and academic (b. 1891)
1971 – James Cash Penney, businessman and philanthropist, founded J. C. Penney (b. 1875)
1994 – Donald Judd, American painter and sculptor (b. 1928)
2000 – Charles M. Schulz, American cartoonist, created Peanuts (b. 1922)
2014 – Sid Caesar, American actor and comedian (b. 1922)