Last-Minute Roadblock Forces Postponement of Vote on 5 WTC
The decision to approve the plans for Five World Trade Center, which we discussed in our previous article, was unexpectedly postponed at the last minute. The vote by the state Public Authorities Control Board, originally scheduled for last Wednesday, was instead tabled, which essentially means delaying the decision. State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins seems to be the reason for the delay. The Public Authorities Control Board consists of three individuals with voting rights, including representatives for Governor Kathy Hochul, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, and Stewart-Cousins. While Governor Hochul fully supports the mostly residential skyscraper project by Brookfield Properties and Silverstein Properties, the legislative leaders are facing pressure from activists who are advocating for a higher percentage of affordable apartments, beyond the original 30% agreed upon. According to a source, some elected officials intervened at the last minute to stall the vote in order to find ways to subsidize additional affordable units.
Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins seems to be responsible for the postponed vote. NY State Senate Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski, who represents Heastie’s vote on the Public Authorities Control Board, stated in an email response to our inquiry that the Assembly did not vote to table the vote and did not request the postponement. Zebrowski attributed the decision to the Senate’s request. State Senator Leroy Comrie, who represents Stewart-Cousins, did not respond to our email seeking confirmation. Sources claim that the developers and Governor Hochul were both angered by the last-minute obstacle, although they were not surprised. The 900-foot-tall skyscraper, designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox and developed by Silverstein Properties, is planned to include 1,325 apartments, with 30% (360 units) designated as affordable rentals. The Empire State Development Corporation’s spokesman, Matthew Gorton, stated, “Our plan always contemplated increasing the level of affordability if additional funds became available. Our public partners have recently shown a renewed interest in exploring this possibility, and we welcome these productive discussions. However, the housing crisis continues to worsen, and the advancement of Five World Trade, which already includes hundreds of permanently affordable units, is crucial to the solution and needs to move forward.” It is reported that Governor Hochul and the Empire State Development Corporation will push for a new vote as soon as possible.
The proposed 900-foot-tall skyscraper will be constructed on the site where the Deutsche Bank tower once stood, at the corner of Greenwich and Albany Streets, just south of the 16-acre World Trade Center complex. The building will encompass 1.2 million square feet of apartments, 190,000 square feet of office space, a 12,000 square-foot community area operated by the nonprofit organization Educational Alliance, 55,000 square feet of public space, and 7,000 square feet of retail space. The number of affordable rental apartments will increase to 30%, or 360 units out of 1,325. Brookfield Properties and Silverstein Properties were selected as the developers for the project by the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. and the Port Authority in February 2021.
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