| NEW YORK
NEW YORK Dec 18 Plans to build an office tower
atop New York City's much criticized bus terminal in midtown
Manhattan have been approved, but a $600 million deal for new
shops at the rebuilt World Trade Center has been delayed, the
Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said on Tuesday.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey was also
expected to announce that Australia's Westfield Group WDC.AX
would invest $600 million for a 50 percent stake in about
490,000 square feet of new shops at Ground Zero, The New York
Times reported on Tuesday.
The Port Authority owns the land occupied by both the bus
terminal and the World Trade Center site.
"We're just working through the deal," an agency
spokeswoman said, explaining why the board postponed the deal
with Westfield, an Australian shopping center developer, on
The agency also delayed for at least one year key parts of
the Ground Zero memorial for the nearly 3,000 people who were
killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
A planned plaza now will not be finished until 2010 and a
planned museum in 2011, the spokeswoman said, pinning the
delays on the complexity of managing so many huge construction
projects at once. A mass transit hub and a cluster of
skyscrapers will all be built where the twin towers once
Under the agreement for an office tower atop Manhattan's
nearly 60-year-old bus terminal, the Port Authority will get
$500 million by leasing the air rights over the bus terminal's
north wing to Vornado Realty Trust (VNO.N) and the Ruben
Companies. The two companies will build and operate the new
skyscraper, one of several sprouting in midtown, the agency
said in a statement.
Agency officials have long wanted to modernize the
over-crowded bus terminal, which the Port Authority says is the
world's busiest with 200,000 daily commuters. Despite several
facelifts, the bus terminal remains a poor stepchild to Grand
Central Terminal, the historic station that serves many of the
city's rail commuters.
The Port Authority said it will use the money from the
lease to upgrade the bus terminal, adding new escalators,
renovating and creating 60,000 square feet of shops, and
building 18 new gates to handle 70 more buses.
The decision to pick Vornado has been criticized because
the company is already a dominant midtown developer. Vornado
also is expected to build a new train station in a planned
relocation of the current Pennsylvania Station, the hub for
Long Island and New Jersey rail commuters that lies 10 blocks
south of the bus station.
The Port Authority's previous pact with Vornado stalled
after the real estate market slipped in the wake of the Sept.
11, 2001 attacks.
The agency, headed jointly by New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer
and New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine, also approved a new $5.9
billion budget for 2008.
It boosted its 10-year capital plan to $29.5 billion, $3.4
billion more than the program approved in 2006. Some $1 billion
was added for security, with another $1 billion for Access to
the Region's Core, a project that includes a new trans-Hudson
River tunnel, and redeveloping the World Trade Center site.
(Editing by Leslie Adler)