After a prolonged fight, the National September 11 Memorial & Museum foundation and the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey have settled financial and other differences regarding the subgrade museum at the World Trade Center. The dispute halted museum construction last December, cast a shadow on the two entities leading the project and delayed the scheduled Sept. 11, 2012, opening by about a year.
The seven-level museum and some port-authority projects share infrastructure at the 16-acre site in Lower Manhattan (ENR 8/16/11 p. 34). The authority, which owns the land, had claimed the foundation owed it $300 million in cost overruns. New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg (R), the foundation's chairman, claimed the authority owed the foundation $140 million.
The six-page memorandum of understanding (MOU) outlines financial details, which the port authority says reduces by some $150 million its "possible exposure" of over $300 million. This amount includes a $10-million design-fee reimbursement for the 110,000-sq-ft project.
The MOU also creates a sitewide activity coordination task force, with representatives from both entities. And a new eight-member advisory committee will develop a master operating agreement.
On Sept. 20, the port authority expects to seek approval to restart construction from its board of commissioners, based on a review of the $700-million project's finances.
All parties have agreed the port authority will not have "any obligation or responsibility, beyond the scope of the MOU," for any 9/11 memorial-museum capital, operating deficiency or shortfall. "Once construction has resumed full pace, it will be continued unless the museum fails to pay on a timely basis any amount required to be paid," says the MOU.
The total value of the WTC development has shrunk to $14.8 billion from $19 billion. The lower number, issued last January in a report by Navigant Consulting that was commissioned by the port authority, is in part due to delayed "build-ups" of two of the three Silverstein Properties Inc. office high-rises.
Two and Three WTC will not move forward into tower construction without a tenant, says David Worsley, Silverstein's director of construction. To date, workers are nearly done capping the planned 88-story Two WTC at street level. The tower portion above the ninth level of the planned 80-story Three WTC also may be delayed, he says.
The Three WTC podium—complicated because it contains mechanical rooms for the WTC Transportation Hub—is 50% finished and on schedule for completion in 2014. Silverstein's 72-story Four WTC is on schedule to open next summer, says Worsley.
Completion of the 1,776-ft-tall One World Trade Center, formerly known as the Freedom Tower, is reset for early 2014. "We're still shooting for late 2013, but with [bad] weather, it may be 2014," says Steven Plate, the port authority's director of WTC construction. "Last winter was a challenge," he adds.