Another Feather in Chris Ward’s Hard Hat: WTC Mall Deal
Matt Chaban July 29, 2011, 9:51 a.m.
Chris Ward’s days as head of the Port Authority may be numbered, but he is determined to do as much as possible before he gets the boot sometime after the 10th anniversary of 9/11. Who knows, it might even save his job. In addition to driving World Trade Center ever-skyward and fixing up bus stations no one even knows existed, the Port Authority is now approaching a deal with an Australian mall operator to run the hip, new retail at the site.
The deal was rekindled in June, as Crain’s reported at the time, and now The Journal has more details, along with the news that the ground zero retail is on the verge of being finalized, after it stalled out in 2008.
Retail would be spread throughout the complex. Some stores would line the multiple levels of the large, open atrium that will make up the $3.4 billion Santiago Calatrava-designed transit hub.
Pedestrian-only walkways would be lined with shops and outdoor cafes. Above ground, lower floors of office towers along Greenwich Street would be filled with shops and restaurants. Some would overlook the memorial currently under construction at the site. The complex has a target opening date of 2015.
Australia-based Westfield, which builds and operates shopping centers around the world and concessions at places such as John F. Kennedy International Airport, agreed this week to the terms of a deal. The company would contribute $612.5 million toward construction costs of 365,000 square feet of retail space.
In return, it would get a 50% stake in the development. The Port Authority would cover the rest of the total cost, which is expected to be $1.55 billion.
This used to be one of the most popular malls in the entire country—the neighboring World Financial Center is keenly aware of this fact—so it is easy to understand why Westfield wants in. However, there are extreme constraints on the design, as the wayward Greek Orthodox church well knows, so it is not a perfect deal, either.