The Real Deal New York

New WTC doc asks: Was rebuilding the site worth the cost?

Price tag hovers between $14B and $16B
By Kathryn Brenzel | September 02, 2016 12:44PM

One World Trade Center, the Oculus and Larry Silverstein

One World Trade Center, the Oculus (credit: Ron Cogswell) and Larry Silverstein

Fifteen years after the World Trade Center attacks, the estimated cost of rebuilding the entire site remains somewhat of a mystery, hovering somewhere between $14 billion and $16 billion — or maybe more.

The site is mostly complete, with One World Trade Center, the memorial and the transit hub open, and 3 World Trade Center nearing completion. During CNBC’s new documentary, “Ground Zero Rising: Freedom vs. Fear,” which aired Thursday night, “Mad Money” host Jim Cramer discussed the ambiguity of rebuilding costs, which he said fell between $14 billion and $16 billion, plus even more in private investment. At one point, he asked developer Larry Silverstein if the end result has been worth the price tag.

“Economically, I don’t know,” Silverstein told Cramer. “From the standpoint of a New Yorker, yes.”

Port Authority Pat Foye also weighed in on the cost, reiterating his previous criticisms of the Santiago Calatrava-designed Oculus. He told Cramer that the project could have cost half of its $4 billion price tag, and said the other funds could have gone to the long-delayed Gateway project instead.

The documentary focused heavily on the struggle of rebuilding a commercial hub where people are constantly reminded of the attacks. Cramer interviewed tenants of One World Trade Center, including the New Yorker’s editor David Remnick and the founders of media company Mic about dealing with the initial fears over moving into the building. Conde Nast occupies 24 floors in the building and received millions in rent incentives. Mic inked a lease for the 82nd floor of the building. Durst Organization chair Douglas Durst said that while some prospective tenants have initial misgivings about moving into One World Trade Center, they get over that once they see the space.

The documentary briefly touched on Silverstein’s struggles with 2 World Trade Center, which was stalled after anchor tenants News Corp. and 21st Century Fox backed out leasing space. The special did not address the Westfield World Trade Center Mall’s struggle to retain tenants