progressreport

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Elizabeth Berger, president of the Downtown Alliance says thatthe report is "a welcome new road map for rebuilding the WTC site."She explains that the agency has taken a practical approach andafter several months of analysis, "have proposed what they believeis an achievable timetable, starting with the Memorial butincluding many key project elements."

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[IMGCAP(2)]The report set a new timetable for completion of OneWorld Trade Center, the Freedom Tower and the site's entire publicinfrastructure. One World Trade Center, the Freedom Tower, isscheduled for completion between the second and fourth quarters of2013, at a cost of $3.1 billion. The World Trade Center MemorialPlaza, including the inscribed names of the victims from theattacks on 9/11, and Feb. 26, 1993, is scheduled for completion bySept. 11, 2011. Some street-level landscaping will be completedlater. The underground museum portion of the project will becompleted between the first and second quarters of 2013. The WTCTransportation Hub will be completed between the fourth quarter of2013 and the second quarter of 2014, at a cost of $3.2 billion. Anew Greenwich Street--the front door to Towers 2, 3 and 4, and akey access point to the Memorial--will be completed between thesecond and fourth quarters of 2012, years before the Port Authorityanticipated. The Vehicle Security Center, which will serve as theunderground access point for the commercial development on thesite, will be completed between the first and third quarters of2012, at a cost of $633 million.

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[IMGCAP(3)]Berger notes that it is essential that this newtimetable be maintained. "Lower Manhattan has proved time and againthat if necessity is the mother of invention, adversity is thefather," she says. "Rebuilding the WTC site must advance LowerManhattan as a global model for a 21st century central businessdistrict, a bustling and open commercial center with superiortransportation, retail and cultural amenities. Lower Manhattandeserves and requires no less."

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Berger continues that "getting it done right on this timetablewill require leadership from both the public and private sectors."The revised timeline and budgets are the result of extensive,intense efforts during the past three months to look at everyelement of every project with the goal of providing aggressive yetrealistic schedules and budgets, the Port Authority says in astatement. The report outlined resolutions of 15 key issues thathave hindered rebuilding progress in the past, and for the firsttime provides intermediate milestones and will allow the public totrack progress on the site.

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Some key findings include:

  • To ensure the Memorial Plaza will open on the 10th anniversaryof the 9/11 attacks, the Port Authority developed a constructionsolution that allows the roof of the WTC Transportation Hub'smezzanine to be built first instead of last as had been originallyprogrammed. That roof will serve as the floor of the Memorial Plazaand allow the project to be accelerated.
  • Due to "active, ongoing construction" that will occur on theWTC site after 2011, the Port Authority will work with the MemorialFoundation and the City to "ensure safe, controlled access to theMemorial after Sept. 11, 2011."
  • Construction of the WTC Transportation Hub has beensignificantly simplified through the strategic placement of columnsand other conventional elements, while retaining the iconic designof architect Santiago Calatrava. This simplified design will savetime, money and reduce construction risk.
  • The increased cost of One World Trade Center, the FreedomTower, is due to price escalation and project changes, includingincreasing the size of the observation deck from one to two levelsand reducing the restaurant to one level to accommodate theprojected number of visitors to the rooftop location.
  • A series of resolutions, including the settling of a land claimwith St. Nicholas Church and a security agreement with the City ofNew York, that will allow the Vehicle Security Center to be builtin a more timely fashion.
  • As GlobeSt.com previously reported, the assessment report wasrequested by Gov.David Paterson to identify key roadblocks to moving forward the WTCrebuilding in a faster and more cost effective way. The initialassessment, released in June, laid out 15 unresolved issues thatwould need to be addressed before accurate schedules and budgetscould be developed. Although significant progress has been made inthe rebuilding efforts, the Port Authority did previously admitthat there were significant delays and cost overruns.

Barry LePatner, a construction cost management specialist,author, and construction attorney, tells GlobeSt.com that he thinksthere will be many more cost overruns in the foreseeable future,and still has some concerns about the construction process. ThePort Authority should be "taken to task for having announced plansof the transportation center without having fully developed acomprehensive program for the entire project," he says. "The P.A.clearly acted too quickly to appease the politicians who werelooking to feed off any news of work to be done at ground zero andwho also ignored the reality of the complex of site conditions thatmiligate against an early understanding of what the true scope ofthe project was." The Port Authority did not respond or comment onLePatner's comments by deadline.

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LePatner worries that the Port Authority "has no history ofbuilding such large scale infrastructure projects and has meanderedacross the spectrum of mistakes in the design and constructionprocess." He says that by never securing a fixed-price contract forthe center "the Port Authority played to the strong hand of theconstruction industry by breaking the project into a series ofdiscrete projects, none of which truly was based on a fixed-pricecontract that allowed cost overruns to run amok."

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To date, LePatner says, the Port Authority should "halt theproject and ensure that a complete scope of work is agreed to onfull design documents and secure a true fixed price that can beannounced once and for all." Another industry source tellsGlobeSt.com that "if this was a private sector development going ontoday, that would definitely be the case," in response toLePatner's comment.

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In any event, the Port Authority's report noted that the agencyis committed to continued public accountability on the rebuilding,and will, for the first time, offer a series of intermediatemilestones that need to be met to deliver the projects by theirrevised completion dates. Jones Lang LaSalle, who reps PortAuthority on the project, was unable to answer GlobeSt.com queriesby deadline or respond to LePatner's concerns.

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Port Authority executive director Chris Ward says in a preparedstatement that "this report allows us to say with certainty whatwe're building, who's building it, when it will be built and forhow much. By working with our project partners to resolve all 15fundamental issues, we've brought a level of certainty and controlthat this rebuilding effort has been missing for too long. Goingforward, with this new level of certainty and with our continuedcommitment to be open, honest and accountable, I am confident thatwe can deliver on the promise of a rebuilt World Trade Center and arenewed Lower Manhattan."

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Natalie Dolce

Natalie Dolce, editor-in-chief of GlobeSt.com and GlobeSt. Real Estate Forum, is responsible for working with editorial staff, freelancers and senior management to help plan the overarching vision that encompasses GlobeSt.com, including short-term and long-term goals for the website, how content integrates through the company’s other product lines and the overall quality of content. Previously she served as national executive editor and editor of the West Coast region for GlobeSt.com and Real Estate Forum, and was responsible for coverage of news and information pertaining to that vital real estate region. Prior to moving out to the Southern California office, she was Northeast bureau chief, covering New York City for GlobeSt.com. Her background includes a stint at InStyle Magazine, and as managing editor with New York Press, an alternative weekly New York City paper. In her career, she has also covered a variety of beats for M magazine, Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel, FashionLedge.com, and Co-Ed magazine. Dolce has also freelanced for a number of publications, including MSNBC.com and Museums New York magazine.