Last week’s announcement that the state green-lighted Brookfield’s and Silverstein Properties’ plan for a supertall, mostly residential tower at Five World Trade Center ignored the more compelling matter of Two World Trade Center — the office skyscraper that Larry Silverstein has tried to build for more than 15 years.
Some news reports last week absurdly claimed that 5 WTC was the “final piece” of the complex, apparently forgetting that the 2 WTC site — which would finally complete the tower quartet at “Ground Zero” — remains a small-scale art installation.
The 2 WTC saga has included a fruitless quest for an anchor tenant after News Corp, parent of the New York Post, decided not to pursue a non-binding agreement in 2016; a failed flirtation with Deutsche Bank, and several major design changes.
A Silverstein spokesman said on Friday, “We are actively looking for an anchor tenant for 2 WTC and are optimistic we will find one.”
Silverstein’s confidence is based on success at the rest of the 16-acre WTC. The developer’s 3 WTC and 4 WTC are 90 percent and 100 percent leased, respectively. The Durst Organization and the Port Authority’s 1 WTC is also nearly full.
The rep confirmed that architects Foster + Partners had redesigned 2 WTC after Silverstein brought Foster in to replace a more cutting-edge scheme by Bjarke Ingels’ firm, BIG.
In January 2020, Silverstein told us during a discussion about a possible 5 WTC, “What’s closest to my heart is Tower Two.”
He also said, “With the level of lease-up activity at Tower Three, my hunch is it won’t be terribly long before an announcement comes up with respect to Tower Two.”
But then the pandemic intervened.
Meanwhile, Five World Trade still faces its own hurdles. Critics, including former Mayor Bill de Blasio and several elected officials, are demanding that the entire residential portion — some 1,200 planned apartments — be used as “affordable” housing, a requirement that would be un-affordable to the developers.
The current plan calls for about 25% of the units to be set aside for lower-income tenants. The gripes will be aired at several planned public hearings.
It’s a sure bet that both new skyscrapers will rise one day. The only real question is, which one first?