Last week’s announcement that the state had greenlit Brookfield and Silverstein Properties’ plan for a super-tall, mostly residential tower at Five World Trade Center ignored the more compelling Two World Trade Center question – the office skyscraper that Larry Silverstein has been trying to build for over 15 years.
Some news reports over the past week have absurdly claimed that 5 WTC is the “last piece” of the complex, seemingly forgetting that the site of 2 WTC – which would finally complete the quartet of towers at “Ground Zero” – remains an art installation. on a small scale.
The 2 WTC saga has included an unsuccessful search for an anchor tenant after News Corp, parent company of the New York Post, decided not to pursue a non-binding deal in 2016; a failed flirtation with Deutsche Bank and several major design changes.
A spokesperson for Silverstein said Friday, “We are actively seeking an anchor tenant for 2 WTCs and are optimistic that we will find one.”
Silverstein’s confidence is based on success in the rest of the 16-acre WTC. The developer’s 3 WTCs and 4 WTCs are respectively 90% and 100% leased. The Durst Organization and the Port Authority’s 1 WTC are also nearly full.
The representative confirmed that architects Foster + Partners redesigned 2 WTC after Silverstein brought in Foster to replace a more cutting-edge project by Bjarke Ingels’ firm, BIG.
In January 2020, Silverstein told us when discussing a possible 5 WTC, “What I care about the most is tower two.”
He also said: “With the level of rental activity at tower three, I have a feeling it won’t be very long before an announcement is made regarding tower two.”
But then the pandemic intervened.
Meanwhile, Five World Trade still faces its own obstacles. Critics, including former mayor Bill de Blasio and several elected officials, demand that the entire residential part – some 1,200 planned apartments – be used as “affordable” housing, a requirement that would be unaffordable for developers.
The current plan calls for approximately 25% of units to be reserved for low-income tenants. The reproofs will be aired at several scheduled public hearings.
It’s a safe bet that the two new skyscrapers will rise one day. The only real question is, which one first?