Brookfield Plans $250 Million World Financial Center Upgrade
June 16, 2011, 5:21 PM EDT
By David M. Levitt
June 16 (Bloomberg) -- Brookfield Office Properties plans to spend about $250 million to upgrade and expand the retail portion of lower Manhattan’s World Financial Center.
The plan calls for a “dramatic” glass pavilion along West Street, across from the World Trade Center, which will link the 8 million-square-foot (743,000-square-meter) complex with downtown’s two new mass transit hubs, Brookfield said in a statement. It also includes a dining concourse overlooking the Hudson River, and would save the Winter Garden staircase, which had been slated for elimination in earlier proposals.
“These improvements to the World Financial Center are coming at the perfect time, given the $20 billion private and public investment in lower Manhattan,” Richard “Ric” Clark, New York-based Brookfield’s chief executive officer, said in the statement. “We are pleased to be moving forward with a plan that incorporates the existing Winter Garden staircase and repositions the World Financial Center for decades to come.”
Brookfield is facing the 2013 expiration of rental agreements on 4.6 million square feet of offices -- more than half the financial center -- originally leased to Merrill Lynch & Co., now controlled by Bank of America Corp. The landlord is working to make the complex more attractive to help it attract and retain tenants.
Construction is scheduled to start in October and will conclude in 2013, the company said. The architect for the glass pavilion is Pelli Clarke Pelli, the firm that designed the financial center.
Fashion, Gourmet Food
Plans call for more than 40 high-end fashion shops and a 25,000-square-foot gourmet food marketplace. The entire retail complex will be 177,000 square feet, according to Brookfield.
Brookfield this year has signed more than 600,000 square feet of new leases at the center with companies including OppenheimerFunds Inc. and Commerzbank AG, both of whom were sub- tenants of Merrill, the company said.
Proposals to replace the circular stairway were opposed by many residents who associate its post-9/11 restoration with the community’s recovery from the 2001 terrorist attacks. Brookfield wanted to eliminate the marble staircase to open up the Winter Garden’s eastern entrance and prevent bottlenecks of pedestrians coming up from the trade center’s PATH train terminal across the street.
Manhattan Community Board 1, which represents neighborhood residents, passed a resolution last July urging Brookfield to “carefully explore all options that will permit retention of the grand staircase.”
--Editors: Christine Maurus, Kara Wetzel