Volume 20, Number 43 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | October 20 - 26, 2010
The rendering above depicts the P.A.C. at the Tower 5 site, including residential overbuild, viewed from a southeastern perspective. LEFT: The rendering above depicts the P.A.C. at the Tower 5 site, including residential overbuild, viewed from a southeastern perspective.
The study that was never seen
BY John Bayles
In late winter of 2010, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation commissioned a taxpayer-funded feasibility study to look at the former Deutsche Bank building as a possible site for the Performing Arts Center. The study was never released to the public however, even after Community Board 1 Chair and L.M.D.C. board member Julie Menin demanded it should be.
And at a C.B. 1 World Trade Center Redevelopment Committee meeting in May, L.M.D.C. officials said it would give possible contractors too big an advantage if the study were released.
“To release it would be to say, ‘here’s the floor, start bidding’,” L.M.D.C. President David Emil said.
The Downtown Express recently received a copy of the study. The Deutsche Bank Building at 130 Liberty Street, now commonly referred to as Tower 5, is owned by the L.M.D.C. There is a Memorandum of Understanding that when the building is completely demolished it will be transferred to the New York / New Jersey Port Authority. It’s expected to be completely demolished by the end of the year.
Menin has been an advocate of looking at Tower 5 as the site of the P.A.C. as well as for other uses such as office and residential. However at a Port Authority board meeting in June the board unanimously voted to invest in Site 1B, which is at the intersection of Vesey and Greenwich Streets, just to the east of One W.T.C. as the P.A.C.’s home. Other interested parties including the L.M.D.C. have also gone on record stating 1B as the only site under consideration.
“We passed a resolution at a board meeting in June,” said spokesperson for the Port Authority Steve Coleman. “It’s 1B. There’s really nothing to talk about.”
No one from the L.M.D.C. responded to calls requesting comment on the matter prior to press time.
The second page of the study begins by listing numerous “constraints that are making the realization of the P.A.C. [at Site 1B] difficult. Examples of the constraints include “extremely complex below grade structure,” “PATH trains run below,” “the Number 1 subway line runs adjacent,” and “there is currently no taxi or private vehicle access contemplated on Vesey Street, therefore drop-off for performances would have to be a block away.”
The study goes on to state, “Site 1B is currently home to the Temporary PATH station… Design and construction of the foundations for the P.A.C. must take into account varied Port Authority programs… a construction schedule for the below grade that will precede the above grade by five to six years and cost sharing… These delays and the complex coordination issues have increased the estimated cost of the P.A.C.”
The study also includes a plethora of drawings that show the footprint of the Tower 5 site could support more than just a performing arts center. It has architectural renderings that show up to 35 floors of residential units that could exist above the center.
$100 mil to the center
Last week it was announced that $100 million in federal funds is slated to go directly to the building of the P.A.C. after an agreement was reached by the city and the state.
“Now that we have $100 million allocated to the P.A.C., this is now the perfect time to be carefully looking at these issues,” said Menin on Tuesday.
“Why would we not seriously consider an option that is cheaper and could arguably be built faster?”
Menin also pointed to the high unemployment rate as yet another reason to consider Tower 5
“Given the fact the city is facing a 9.5 percent unemployment rate, why not start a project now that creates immediate construction jobs and long term jobs,” said Menin.
The Port Authority’s argument against Tower 5 has been that the Vehicular Security Center is set to be built beneath the site. The timeline is to complete the V.S.C. by 2014.
Menin however points to the fact J.P. Morgan Chase was in discussion to purchase the site roughly five years ago and that it was then described as a shovel ready site. She contends that if it was shovel ready then, it should be shovel ready now.
“There must be a public discussion, there must be a transparent process,” said Menin. “The whole problem is we are using the tax payers’ money to build these projects. Frankly, now is the time we should have a close look at Tower 5.”