Brookfield and Silverstein Join Forces to Pitch WTC Residential Tower

The 33,000-square-foot World Trade Center Site 5, bounded by Washington, Albany and Greenwich Streets, is now occupied by the Port Authority Police Command Center. Photo: Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib

Nov. 26, 2019

If Silverstein Properties and Brookfield Properties have their way, the two office building giants will be joining forces to develop the last tower at the World Trade Center. And it will be residential.

The developers, whose towering Downtown domains are separated by West Street—one at the World Trade Center, the other Brookfield Place— jointly responded to a request for proposals to build on a 33,000-square-foot piece of prime Lower Manhattan property, known as Site 5, just south of Liberty Park. According to people familiar with the joint bid, the 900-foot-high building would have about 1 million square feet of apartments above a 245,000-square-foot, five- or six-story pediment of mixed uses, yet to be determined but expected to include a community benefit such as a school, library or community center. Thirty percent of the units would be offered at below market rate.

With Silverstein’s 2 World Trade Center yet to be developed, it made little sense to propose a competing office building, said a person familiar with the developer’s rationale for pitching a residential use.

Brookfield Properties and Silverstein Properties declined to comment.

Another bidder is L&L Mag, which had planned to pitch an “exclusively-commercial and community oriented tower designed by the architecture firm Studio Gang,” according to Crain’s New York Business. That plan calls for a spire “that would seek to look and feel distinct” from the other World Trade Center towers, Crain’s reported. An L&L Mag spokeswoman declined to comment.

The Port Authority and Lower Manhattan Development Corp., the two state agencies in charge of the site, are not divulging the bidders’ identities. The proposals, received in September, could pitch plans for either a residential or commercial building. Back in 2003, the master plan for the rebuilt World Trade Center site called for a commercial building of up to 900 feet. But with the changing market, the agencies chose to also accept proposals for a mixed use building with as much as 1.1 million square feet of apartments, 20 to 30 percent of them required to be below market rate. 

“We’re testing the market, which is why we didn’t put more restrictions and parameters [in the request for proposals],” Holly Leicht, the LMDC board chair, told a Community Board 1 committee in August.

A commercial building of up to 1.3 million square feet could be built without public review, as could a hotel with as many as 800 rooms and 150,000 square feet of convention space. A residential building would require months of public review, and would also be looked at by a newly formed Community Advisory Committee of elected officials, a CB1 representative, and LMDC and Port Authority officials.

Five World Trade Center is the site of the former Deutsche Bank building, damaged on 9/11. The LMDC bought the property and is turning over development revenue to the Port Authority in a swap that allowed the September 11 Memorial & Museum and performing arts center to be built on land that the Authority had controlled.

A spokeswoman for the Port Authority said there is no set timeline for when a selected developer will be announced.