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 Building Freedom Tower -- The Journal 

Paperbacknovel contributor Dick Sheppard, who works in an office directly overlooking the World Trade Center site, hopes to track progress of the ascent of Freedom Tower, which at 1776 feet will be [more]

For previous journals, see bottom of this page.

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Sept. 11, 2006 and Tribute in Lights

Keep Building Larry

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Building Freedom Tower

June 2007 Installment of the Monthly Journal 

[Read the sidebar, Building Freedom Tower -- The Journal for introduction]

By Dick Sheppard

Period ending 6/25/07 

Insurance settlement finalized

Several positive developments underway for the WTC/Freedom Tower rebuilding and across the Lower Manhattan streetscape. First, the previously tentative insurance settlement for the original attacks is finalized at $4.55 billion dollars. Recall that after 9/11/01, WTC leaseholder Larry Silverstein argued that the two separate plane strikes should double his claim (he had $3.5 billion of coverage for his WTC lease). As such, Silverstein argued he was entitled to claim a total of $7 billion dollars. This "doubled" claim in the aftermath of 9/11's destruction seemed a reach, but Silverstein's argument generated sufficient legal heft to warrant negotiation. 

While he didn't get the full $7 billion, the $4.55 billion Silverstein receives represents an additional $1 billion dollars beyond what the insurance companies would have paid. That extra one billion dollars represents the ability to build one full tower at the WTC site. The rough building math is: Freedom Tower $2 billion, the new already-built 7WTC was probably somewhat less than a billion dollars, plus two additional towers for $2 billion when all is said and done. The final 4th tower can be financed, including using Liberty Bonds authorized for the rebuild.

Thus, there are no financial hurdles to rebuilding the WTC site adhering to the present plan. Freedom Tower in the northwest quadrant, Tower 2 directly east, and tower 3, and 4 along Church Street. 

Freedom Tower -- Canes On Light Duty

There's not much visibly happening at the Freedom Tower footprint. Two tower cranes are modestly working, lifting small-scale items, but not structural columns and beams. Infrastructure work, doubtless. At the Memorial quadrant, a lot of the concrete foundations, with rebar protruding, are emplaced in the Manhattan bedrock. The wall separating the to-be-built western-most PATH tracks is nearly complete. The most visible work occurring anywhere on the WTC site is the "eastern bathtub" wall construction. The trenching, digging, and rebar emplacement is a rapid-fire exercise, there are critical deadlines for the Port Authority getting that wall built. The big rebar wall support cages are rapidly being emplaced along Vesey Street, just east of the "Survivor's Stairs," the last above-ground remnant of the original WTC complex. A recent Wall Street Journal article reported there is a world-wide shortage of cranes of the type being used at the WTC rebuild. There's at least 7-9 large cranes doing various tasks on the WTC rebuild.

Tower 5 - JP MorganChase Buys In

Again, for all the talk of reluctant, skittish companies avoiding the WTC site for fear of future attacks, the WTC rebuild sure attracts a lot of interest and the money follows. According to various sources, 7 WTC is nearly fully leased, except for the details. Many naysayers said that wouldn't happen. Now JP MorganChase announces it will build a downtown operations center on the Tower 5 site, paying the Port Authority $300 million for the ground lease. 

There's some mild controversy about Morgan's Tower 5 design. The design includes several floors which will "cantilever" north out over the park which will separate Tower 5 from the main WTC site. Too, any extended Tower 5 floors may overawe St, Nicholas Greek Orthodox church, which owns land on the parcel and will be rebuilt. But the Tower 5 design isn't finalized, so the issue might or might not be resolved to everyone's agreement.

A New Path Access

Entering the PATH station on Friday, 6/15/07, lo and behold, construction appears finished on the next version of the PATH access. The new access is about 100 feet south of the present access on Church Street. The new access stairs aren't as wide as the stairs being replaced, which might create some commuter jam-ups for the indefinite future. 

The old PATH access stairs will be closed off to enable prep-work for the final PATH station, the soaring wing-like Calavatra station. Eventually, the newly opened temp PATH stairs will also go into disuse, and access to the PATH will switch over to the Vesey Street side of the site. It will be interesting to see how that next access switch is accomplished, taking into account how any access will include any long escalator banks, which have always conveniently faced towards Church Street, but not Vesey.

Fulton Hub Site Clearing 

The clearing of the primary Fulton Transit Hub site at the southeast corner of Fulton and Broadway continues. The bare steel building right at the corner of Fulton and Broadway is nearly cut down. A large telescoping crane is in place inside the wide lot created by the demo of previous buildings just south of the corner, ready to take down the 11-story 198-200 Broadway building. Covered in a small scaffold and tarp, the existing subway access on the south side of Fulton just east of Broadway remains open, underneath the bare steel of the corner building. It will be interesting to see if it remains open as the Hub itself rises on that site. The foundation drilling equipment is still at work on the southwest corner of Broadway and Dey Street. So much foundation work for a comparatively small parcel seems surprising. So it will be interesting to see just what will arise on that site; either a subway access, or a building of another sort? 

Broadway & Cortlandt Street

The understructure work at Broadway and Cortlandt Street is nearing completion, and workers are "refilling" the new under street "roof" covering. Once that is finished, all the will be needed is asphalt.


Deutsche Bank Demo

The Deutsche Bank demo contractor still says that this forlorn tower will be gone by year-end, and they are going at the demo with noticeable progress. One setback occurred a few weeks back, when an 8-foot section of pipe fell from the top of the Deutsche Bank building and crashes through the roof of 10-House fire company on Greenwich & Liberty. A few firemen were shook up but no one was hurt. Probably in a few weeks, when the wooden scaffolding surround the very top of the Deutsche Tower is removed, the view from my offices will look right across at, and eventually down on, the Deutsch demo.