If you build it, they may come

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There are two sides to every story concerning the topping of 1 World Trade Center with the final section of its spire. There will be celebrations when the 1 WTC is completed in 18 months and ready for occupancy. At present, only 55 percent of available space has been leased to date. Last year U.S. Senator Charles Schumer was successful in lobbying the Federal General Services Administration to sign a 20 year lease for six floors at 1 World Trade Center. This makes no sense for taxpayers. First, we have provided several billion dollars toward subsidizing reconstruction of 1 WTC. Current cost is now $3.9 billion including a $1 billion cost overrun. The overall costs of rebuilding the 16-acre site including the 9/11 memorial and other projects has increased from $11 billion in 2008 to $15 billion today. Many components are several years behind the original scheduled completion dates.

Now taxpayers are being asked to pay twice by providing funding for GSA to rent space at the same facility from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (another government agency) and the Durst Organization. Does Schumer have any conflicts of interest in soliciting campaign contributions from members of the Durst Organization as a political quid pro quo for “assisting” and “steering” them tenants? Why shouldn’t 100 percent of 1 WTC space be rented out to private-sector tenants, thus saving taxpayers funds? There are already numerous other GSA buildings in Manhattan along with other locations in the five boroughs and suburbs. Residents from New York City’s other four boroughs including Queens, Brooklyn, Bronx and Staten Island along with the adjacent suburbs of Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester counties who could have benefited by additional jobs based in their communities were sold out by Schumer. Don’t forget that many companies have been moving out of Manhattan to other boroughs, suburbs and out of state. This has increased existing surplus capacity of office building space at these locations. Even more new space will be coming on line with the Manhattan midtown west Hudson Yards project adjacent to Penn Station and rezoning of Manhattan’s east midtown adjacent to Grand Central Terminal. Many other owners of facilities can offer leasing at a far lower price per square foot. They could easily beat the so called bargain of $40 a square foot at 1 WTC. Why not attempt saving taxpayers millions? With a $16.7 trillion dollar plus deficit, shouldn’t the GSA along with other federal agencies be consolidating rather than renting more office space?

Schumer’s actions are just padding the amount of leased space at 1 WTC with taxpayers picking up the tab. He reminds me of Don Corleone, the godfather. With all of his powers in reviewing and approving GSA’s annual fiscal year budget, he made them “an offer they couldn’t refuse.” At the end of the day, Schumer has just added on to our $16.7 trillion dollar and growing national deficit. Since 1981, under Schumer’s watch serving as both a Congress member and Senator – the only thing that grew faster than reconstruction of 1 WTC was our national debt. It went up by $15.7 trillion increasing from $1 trillion in 1981 to $16.7 trillion today while he held federal office. No wonder Schumer never talks about this at his standard Sunday news conferences. It is nothing to be proud of.