5 World Trade Center

URGENT: WE NEED YOU TO SIGN THIS LETTER FOR THE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION AND THE NEW HUD SECRETARY ON 5 WORLD TRADE CENTER. PLEASE READ, CONSIDER SIGNING, AND SHARE (February 15, 2021): https://bit.ly/3bgEbqq

The Washington Street Advocacy Group has been concerned about efforts by city and state governments to use government funding provided after September 11, 2001 almost exclusively to subsidize luxury construction and supporting amenities. In the process, nearly all low-rise historic buildings surrounding the World Trade Center are being demolished.

In particular, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, which received billions of dollars from the federal government after September 11 to support a variety of local needs, has neglected its founding principles related to historic preservation and affordable housing. Twenty years later, the corporation still exists and is attempting to funnel most of its remaining funds to megaprojects like the Ronald O. Perelman Performing Arts Center and Hudson River Park.

Despite having no experience in managing the demolition of the buildings, the LMDC took responsibility for managing the demolition and sale of the Deutsche Bank building at 130 Liberty (now the planned site of 5 World Trade Center). During a demolition process that took 10 years, mismanagement and corruption led to a fire at the building, killing 2 firefighters and injuring 115.

Now, 20 years later, the LMDC is still seeking to obtain additional funds from a sale of this site to distribute to their partners. After a dispute with the Port Authority over who actually should receive proceeds from a sale or lease of the Deutsche Bank site, in 2018 the LMDC reached an agreement with the Port Authority and with the City of New York. As part of the deal, the LMDC took the position that the master plan for the World Trade Center’s reconstruction should be possibly changed so this site, now called 5 World Trade Center, could become a luxury residential tower rather than an office building which the Port Authority had wanted.

In June 2019, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a rushed RFP process for the 5 World Trade Center site, giving little time for bids outside of preferred real estate firms. The Port Authority and the LMDC’s standards privileged financial return as the greatest standard, meaning that community benefits and affordable housing would likely be neglected.

The Washington Street Advocacy Group performed critical FOIL requests (lobbying fiercely for their quick fulfillment) that allowed the public and press to report on what was actually happening with the site. It also formulated an argument that broader possibilities for the site should be explored and that any proceeds should support local historic preservation. Press has reported that Silverstein Properties and Brookfield advanced a joint bid for a residential project, but COVID-19 has caused the LMDC-PA to delay concluding the RFP (possibly in violation of the contract, whose terminal date was redacted from the FOIL).

We argued that this delay should force all parties involved to reevaluate the plan itself given the different post-COVID-19 environment. However, on February 10, 2021, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation announced that it had selected a joint venture of Brookfield Properties and Silverstein Properties to build luxury apartments with a 99-year lease to 5 World Trade Center.

The Washington Street Advocacy Group has decided to oppose this project vigorously. We plan to gather a strong coalition to lobby the Biden administration and local elected officials. If the federal government is going to pay for this project entirely, they should insist on a higher level of affordable housing, ideally a completely deeply-affordable building. The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation does not have as strong a hand as they pretend. The federal government has had to pay completely for this embarrassing project, and they can withdraw support at any moment.

Our first goal is to send a message to the new Biden administration with this letter. Please consider signing this letter: https://bit.ly/3bgEbqq

New York Daily News, July 15, 2019: https://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/ny-wtc-development-plan-20190714-enhlsytxuncjhll6pb7mkhe4ji-story.html

6sqft, July 15, 2019: https://www.6sqft.com/as-plans-for-5-wtc-push-forward-long-time-fidi-residents-seek-more-involvement-in-the-process/

6sqft, February 12, 2021: https://www.6sqft.com/plan-for-900-foot-tower-with-1325-rentals-at-5-world-trade-center-moves-forward/

Copyright, Washington Street Advocacy Group, 2021