Silverstein unveils new W.T.C. tower details


By Skye H. McFarlane

Amid the swirl of 9/11 memories and Deutsche Bank worries last week, Silverstein Properties released a bit of positive news about the World Trade Center site — that the three Greenwich St. towers are on schedule and designed to be both accessible and safe.

At a jam-packed press event Thursday morning and then again at a Community Board 1 meeting Monday night, Silverstein executives presented new renderings for W.T.C. Towers 2, 3 and 4, which will now carry the addresses of 200, 175 and 150 Greenwich St., respectively.

“Thank you so much,” C.B. 1 vice-chairperson Catherine McVay Hughes said after watching the presentation Monday night at 7 W.T.C. “This is so nice to hear something upbeat in our neighborhood, especially today.”

While the press event — also held at 7 W.T.C. — took a broader look at the site’s redevelopment, the C.B. 1 presentation focused in on community priorities like street life and retail.

“We are passionate about making these buildings porous [to pedestrians],” said Janno Lieber, Larry Silverstein’s director of W.T.C. development.

Lieber assured community members that all three towers would have seating in their office lobbies along Greenwich St. Although there will be a security presence in the lobbies, the public will be able to come in and look out over the memorial or enjoy public artwork, such as the large media screen planned for the lobby of Tower 3.

Lieber said that Silverstein, in general, wants the sites to be as accessible and lively as possible — within the constraints of any security protocols the Police Department may enforce. To that end, the designers have tried to make the area’s changes in elevation as subtle and stair-free as possible.

Silverstein Properties is also excited for the return of Greenwich St., which had been eliminated in the 1970s by the old W.T.C. superblock. The new renderings of Greenwich St. show traffic zooming through the area, but Lieber cautioned that the policy on vehicles within the site had yet to be decided. The final traffic pattern, he said, would involve balancing the N.Y.P.D.’s desire for security with the Memorial Foundation’s desire for tour bus access, the office tenants’ desire for black car service and the residents’ desire to eliminate congestion and idling.

As for retail on the site, Lieber stressed that the massive retail corridor, which will face Church St., will be controlled and marketed by the Port Authority. He said that Silverstein was doing its part to promote the retail, however, by making the store areas and access ramps clearly visible from the street.

Although project officials were reluctant to discuss the towers’ safety features at the Thursday press event and refused to say whether the N.Y.P.D. and F.D.N.Y. had signed off on the designs, Lieber was less tight-lipped with the community board. He assured board members that all of the new towers would have the same internal protections as 7 W.T.C., including reinforced concrete cores protecting the stairs, elevators and sprinkler systems; wide stairways with emergency pull-offs and high-tech ventilation systems; and extra-thick fireproofing throughout the structures.

Construction of the Freedom Tower was delayed by over a year when the building was redesigned in response to N.Y.P.D. concerns.

Each of the new Greenwich St. towers also plans to match 7 W.T.C. in achieving a Gold rating from the U.S. Green Buildings Council.

Lieber said that as long as the Port Authority turns over the sites on time and none of the office tenants request any major design changes, Towers 3 and 4 should be ready for occupancy by the end of 2011. The larger Tower 2 will be ready by mid-2012. To keep the project on schedule, the Greenwich St. tower designers are faced with a giant digital countdown clock in their offices at 7 W.T.C. The clock ticks down to April 1, 2008 — the hard deadline for all design documents.

“We’re not kidding. We’ve met every deadline,” Lieber said. “We [at Silverstein Properties] operate differently from a lot of other portions of this project.”

Under an agreement reached last year, the Port Authority must complete the complex sub-grade work for Towers 3 and 4 by the end of the year or face a $300,000 per day penalty. The Tower 2 site is due by July 1, 2008. At the Thursday press conference, the Port’s executive director, Anthony Shorris, said that the agency was fully prepared to hold up its end of the bargain.

“I told the staff that we have to finish by that time, if only so everyone will stop calling me,” Shorris said, drawing laughter from the crowd of reporters.