Volume 22, Number 25 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | October 30 - November 6, 2009
Photo by Joe Woolhead
The former Deutsche Bank building, across the street from the World Trade Center site.
Demolition of Deutsche, once again, is about to begin
The Deutsche Bank building could finally begin shrinking next week, when the demolition of the skyscraper across from the World Trade Center site is scheduled to resume.
“Hopefully we’re beginning the final phase of removing this blight from our community,” Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said Monday, at a meeting of his taskforce on the building.
The 26-story tower at 130 Liberty St. is now cleaned of 9/11 dust, so contractors have stopped monitoring the air nearby for asbestos and other toxic materials. They will continue monitoring silica and particulate matter whenever work is happening in the building.
Assuming it takes a week to demolish each floor, the building could come down as soon as May. The Lower Manhattan Development Corp., the federally-funded public authority that owns the building, has not given a schedule.
The cost of cleaning and demolishing the building has ballooned to about $200 million as the L.M.D.C. contended with many delays, including eight months of work stoppage after the August 2007 fire in the building that killed two firefighters and sparked a 16-month investigation by the District Attorney Robert Morgenthau. Morgenthau ultimately indicted one construction supervisor with contractor Bovis Lend Lease and two with subcontractor John Galt Corp., and he indicted Galt as well. Bovis and the city admitted oversight failures leading up to the fire but were not charged.
While Galt is now off the job, replaced by LVI/Mazzocchi Wrecking Inc., Bovis is still overseeing the work.
Once the Deutsche Bank building comes down, the future of the site is uncertain. The northern part will be used to build a vehicle security center for the W.T.C. site, and will eventually have a park on top. The southern part was supposed to be the site of an office tower, and was more recently floated for a performing arts center, but neither is likely to begin construction anytime soon.
“There’s a good chance this site could be vacant and fenced off for a number of years,” said Adam Banha, a manager with Masterworks Development Corp., which is building a hotel at 130 Cedar St. nearby. “The owners around that site would strongly like to have…some sort of pedestrian use or a community park.”
Catherine McVay Hughes, chairperson of Community Board 1’s W.T.C. Redevelopment Committee, agreed with Banha at Silver’s taskforce meeting.
“There’s enough stalled construction sites in our community,” she said. “We need to make sure it’s not just another deserted lot.”
David Emil, L.M.D.C. president, agreed that the L.M.D.C. needed to find an interim use for the site.
“Right now I don’t know what the answer to that is,” Emil said. “Sadly it’s months off, not days off.”
“But not a year off,” Hughes interjected.
Emil paused, then said, “That remains to be seen.”
— Julie Shapiro