June 30th - July 3rd, 2008
Port Authority Presents WTC Audit
June 30 – Port Authority Executive Director Christopher Ward presented his audit of the redevelopment of the WTC to the PA board. He said, “Significant progress has been made at the World Trade Center site, but decisions must be made to mitigate cost impacts. It will get built.” Ward said the National September 11 Memorial and Museum will not be open in time for the 10th anniversary and the PATH station and Transit Hub are over budget and behind schedule. The report said the delays could run up to three years and the cost overruns could be about $3 billion. Ward said there are still 15 decisions to be made about the site and because some projects are still being designed, it’s impossible to make decisions about the whole site. Ward called for a defined governance structure to oversee construction at the site – “We have no over all steering committee and no management to manage the myriad of projects.” He also talked about the complexity of the site and the interlocking projects. He added that “We need a new way of doing business at the site. We need accountable governance. The planning and politics are over.” Ward promised to have the 2nd phase of his report on the project’s budget and timetable to the Board and Govs. Paterson and Corzine by September 30th.
Building Inspector Suspended
June 30 – The City Department of Buildings (DOB) announced it suspended a top buildings inspector for 30 days after he ignored complaints last year about corruption in crane licensing. According to The Daily News, Michael Carbone is identified in online city records as having closed out several 311 complaints about crane corruption without taking action. DOB acting Commissioner Robert LiMandri said “There will be zero tolerance for any employee who compromises the integrity of this department and its mission of public safety. New Yorkers are depending on us and deserve no less.”
OSHA Criticized for Moving Slowly on Crane Safety
June 30 – The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was criticized by the House Education and Labor Committee last week for not moving faster on a new crane safety standard. OSHA’s chief Edwin Foulke told lawmakers the new crane standard would be published by September, but the final rule would not be in place until 2009.
Downtown Strand Bookstore to Close
June 30 – The Strand Bookstore at 95 Fulton Street announced it’s closing in August because of a 300% increase in rent. According to The Downtown Express, owner Fred Bass was also hit by a decrease in pedestrian traffic because of construction work taking place on Fulton Street.
Pier 40 Identified as Possible School Site
June 30 – Three high schools may be built on Pier 40. The Downtown Express reports that the School Construction Authority feels the pier’s location make it a strong candidate for new public school development. SCA president Sharon Greenberger has been communicating with Noreen Doyle, Vice President of the Hudson River Park Trust. For the past few months, the Pier 40 partnership has been working to produce a new redevelopment plan for the pier.
Financial District Fast Growing
June 30 – The fastest growing area in Lower Manhattan is the Financial District, according to a report released by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer. It says the area is expected to double its 2000 population by 2013 to approximately 28,000 people.
CB1 Passes Resolution Supporting Beekman Tower
June 30 – Community Board 1 passed a resolution supporting a decision by the City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) to give Forest City Ratner a 20 year tax break for Beekman Tower in order to head off future delays. The resolution also criticized HPD for awarding abatements to unaffordable projects. Forest City Ratner had said without the abatement, work would have stop on the site and there would be delays. The 76 story apartment tower includes a pre-K through 8th grade school which may not open until 2011. Workers are framing the 5th floor of the tower now.
WTC Transit Hub Scaled Back
July 2 – The wings on the Calatrava Transit Hub are being clipped. Port Authority Executive Director Chris Ward announced “the roof will no long open and close. This is a tough choice, but it is the right choice” as it could save the PA hundreds of millions of dollars. Ward says time and money would be saved by not having to engineer the wings for changing weight distribution and would stop the south wing from coming within several feet of Tower 3. The PA is working on ways to build the hub for no more than $2.5 billion.
New Safety Standards Developed
July 2 – Builders, real estate developers and construction unions are working together to create new safety standards and develop a database of tower crane maintenance. According to Lou Coletti, president of the Building Trades Employers Association, “The intent of this organization is get out in front. Right now what we’re doing is reacting, trying to find out why things happened and putting a Band Aid over those areas that are problematic.”
Mayor Optimistic Memorial to be Built by 10th Anniversary
July 2- Mayor Bloomberg says he’s optimistic that the Memorial and Museum could be open in time for the 10th anniversary. The PA audit released earlier this week said it’s doubtful that the Memorial would be ready to open in 2011. PA Executive Director Chris Ward told The Daily News, “It’s our hope that the pools and the waterfall will be functioning at that point.” He added that the delay in the project would not prevent a large commemoration on that date at Ground Zero.
Cement Truck Drivers Strike
July 2- Work on the Freedom Tower came to a halt Wednesday morning when more than 400 cement truck drivers went on strike. Concrete companies are predicting the walkout could last through Monday, putting thousands of construction workers temporarily out of work. The union is calling for better wages and improved working conditions.
Office Leasing Continues to Hold
July 2- A mid-year analysis by Cushman and Wakefield Inc. shows that the office leasing market in Manhattan continued to hold its own during the first half of the year. The report also says job losses in the financial services sector will likely increase in the 2nd half of ’08. According to Commercial Property News, how much office space returns to the market this year depends on the severity of those layoffs.