Residential High-Rise May Rise at WTCMar 19, 2008
The Port Authority is considering developing a mixed-use building or a residential high-rise at the World Trade Center site of the former Deutsche Bank headquarters, now that JPMorgan Chase & Co. has backed out of plans to move its investment banking operation there, sources said.
The director of World Trade Center development for Silverstein Properties, Janno Lieber, who is overseeing development of towers 2, 3, and 4, said he is not concerned about JPMorgan’s change of heart and does not think it would harm the overall development plans for Lower Manhattan. “At the time that the whole World Trade Center master plan was done, it was contemplated that it might be a residential hotel or something else. That issue is on the table again,” he said.
JPMorgan this week said it would move its operations to the 43-story Bear Stearns offices on Madison Avenue. The offices are to be acquired as part of its $2-a-share acquisition of the financial services firm.
The news changes the vision that the Port Authority and developer Larry Silverstein had been advocating for the new World Trade Center site. As early as last week, Mr. Silverstein was touting JPMorgan’s move as a sign that the site was an emerging center of finance and commerce. JPMorgan has indicated that it remains interested in the site, and a spokeswoman for the Port Authority, Candace McAdams, said that, because of the nonbinding nature of the deal, JPMorgan would incur no penalties if it were to withdraw its interest altogether. “In our discussions, we have every indication that they continue to see the building as an attractive location,” she said.
The developer Edward Minskoff said a mixed-use development or a first-class hotel would make sense at the site.
“I imagine a lot of people are circling the wagon train trying to figure out what they are going to do,” he said.
Discussion regarding the use of the site, which is situated a block south of ground zero at 130 Liberty St., dates back to 2003, when a number of officials and planners – including Mayor Bloomberg – were advocating for more residential development to be incorporated into the plan.
However, Mr. Bloomberg’s current deputy mayor for economic development, Robert Lieber, said that idea is no longer viable.
“I remember the residential idea, and to do that – as far as the legislative challenges go – I don’t think it is right at this stage of the game,” he said. “The reason to build residential was because there wasn’t any commercial tenants, but I think the market is completely different today,” he said, adding that a building dedicated to financial services still makes the most sense.