WTC Memorial Estimate: Fishy Business


The New York Times reports that the new estimate for the WTC Memorial is now nearly one billion dollars. What a big surprise! I'm sure some of the complaining architecture sites out there already are calling it an exposé and Phillip Noble has his next Metropolis complaint complete.

Aside from some obvious political bumbling by the Foundation's leaders (they got an estimate for $494 million at one point, and have only raised $130 million toward its construction), it appears that the governor and mayor are simply using the revised estimate as a way to get the project out of the Foundation's hands and into their own. In short, fishy business. The clue, buried on page 3:

The ensuing debate over costs and potential design changes may also raise once again the possibility that the Port Authority would take over construction of the memorial from the foundation. Last fall, both Governor Pataki and Mayor Bloomberg seemed to endorse the idea. State officials in the last week have expressed a lack of confidence in the foundation’s ability to build the memorial complex.

Also of interest is the items included in this new estimate. $300 million for site preparation, $71 million for a chiller plant, and $25 million for insurance (why is an operating expense in here?). Essentially, Bovis Lend Lease added everything and the kitchen sink in an effort to create a headline of "OMG WTC MEM AT $1B" for the Post, probably at the wink-nod of the governor. But the items enumerated are arguably things the state should provide to the foundation: a buildable site, heating and cooling infrastructure, etc. It isn't a commercial tenant trying to develop valuable real estate in Lower Manhattan. It's a memorial, something that should be the focal point for our healing. Apparently it's also another field for playing power-ball.


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