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5 World Trade Center site could sprout 900-foot residential tower

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One of the final undeveloped World Trade Center sites is moving forward

The 5 World Trade Center site in 2015.
Max Touhey

The rumors were true: Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Port Authority announced Wednesday that a request for proposals (RFP) has been issued for 5 World Trade Center—one of the last unfinished pieces of the World Trade Center site.

The RFP, issued by the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC) and the Port Authority, calls to develop more than 1 million square feet, which could be used for commercial space (offices, a hotel, convention center, and the like) or as a residential building. In either case, a new structure could rise up to 900 feet.

In order to build residential, the state would have to amend the general project plan (GPP) that governs development of the WTC site; it’s currently zoned by the city for commercial use, but the GPP overrides the city’s zoning code. If a developer wanted to build residential, they would be allowed 1.1 million square feet for housing, with the remainder given over to community facilities and retail. Any residential development would also have to include affordable housing as dictated by the city’s mandatory inclusionary housing (MIH) requirements. (A part that’s underlined in the RFP: “all affordable housing units must be located onsite.”)

The RFP also has strict requirements for applicants: Per the document, respondents must fit these qualifications:

At least two (2) high-rise development projects in comparable urban locations in the last ten (10) years; and at least two (2) projects in the last seven (7) years for which the Respondent or Respondent Team members acted as a developer and/or principal operator of buildings incorporating all proposed uses.

Earlier this month, Crain’s reported that LMDC, which owns the site, and the Port Authority had finally reached a deal to seek out a developer for 5 WTC. This comes after years of limbo for the site, which was previously occupied by the Deutsche Bank building (which was torn down in 2007).

At one point, JP Morgan was considering building a skyscraper at the site, which abuts Liberty Park, but those plans fell apart more than a decade ago. In the years since, the Port Authority maintained that it has no plans for 5 WTC—until now, anyway.

“This project will create jobs, spur economic growth and bring us one step closer to completing Downtown’s rebirth, reflecting New York’s courage and determination in the face of this tragedy,” Cuomo said in a statement.

Other parts of the WTC site are either still in the earliest development phases or under construction. Larry Silverstein’s 2 World Trade Center is still awaiting an anchor tenant before proceeding, and the Ronald O. Perelman Center for The Performing Arts (formerly the World Trade Center Performing Arts Center) is under construction with a projected 2021 opening date. The St. Nicholas National Shrine, which sits adjacent to 5 WTC and has been stalled since 2017, may also get the funding it needs to cross the finish line.