Suffolk Notebook: IDA Hopes Incentives Will Keep Broadridge
By Henry Powderly Hoping to prevent the loss of 1600 jobs on Long Island, the Suffolk County Industrial Development Agency on Thursday floated an incentive package worth millions to Broadridge Financial, a public company that has threatened to move …
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via Metropolis by Eliot Brown on 4/30/12 Ramin Talaie for The Wall Street Journal
One World Trade Center, built to replace the towers destroyed Sept. 11, 2001, on Monday gets steel columns to make it New York City’s tallest building. Once finished, it will be one of the world’s highest.
With its steel beams expected to rise past 1,250 feet on Monday, One World Trade Center will eclipse the Empire State Building as the tallest building in New York City on its way to becoming the Western Hemisphere’s highest skyscraper.
One WTC’s 1,776-foot height, measured from the top of its spire, is a towering achievement by American standards — 325 feet taller than the nation’s current highest, the 1451-foot Willis Tower in Chicago (formerly the Sears Tower).
But when compared to skyscraper projects underway across the globe, the skyscraper formerly known as the Freedom Tower projects a less imposing image: 1,776 feet just isn’t so tall anymore.
With fast-growing economies and a desire to use buildings as statements, countries in the Middle East and East Asia have seized the tallest-skyscraper mantle from the U.S., which for the bulk of the 20th century was home to the world’s tallest building (a distinction that passed between towers in Chicago and New York).
The current holder of the world’s tallest title, Dubai’s Burj Khalifa at 2,717 feet, reaches nearly 1,000 feet higher than the One WTC’s completed height. If the Freedom Tower was completed tomorrow, it would become the second-tallest skyscraper in the world. But even that distinction would be short-lived.
Looking forward, there are five towers under construction that will surpass One WTC, and another six proposed buildings that best America’s tallest building-to-be, according to the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, the organization recognized as the authority on skyscrapers.
None of these up and comers are being built in the U.S. Saudi Arabia lays claim to two, and the remaining nine are set to pop up in China, Korea and Indonesia.
There’s something of a tall-building boom afoot — just not in the birthplace of the skyscraper. By 2015, the number of new buildings over 300 meters, or 984 feet, is slated to jump to 116 from just 52 in 2010, according to CTBUH. The vast majority of these new buildings will be located in Asia.
The Asian skyscraper boom — and the lack of one in North America — has come about for a variety of reasons.
Labor costs, a big component of skyscraper construction, in many countries are substantially lower than in the U.S. The owners of the Burj Khalifa, for instance, have put the price tag at $1.5 billion, while One WTC is expected to cost about $3.9 billion. Although security costs are substantially higher at the site of Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks than elsewhere, higher-priced labor is also a large factor.
Another issue is the timing of financial cycles. Investors and banks in the U.S. tend to be wary of putting money into tall buildings given the lengthy construction — to build vertically, tall skyscrapers can take as much as two years longer to complete than shorter buildings. That extra time adds considerable uncertainty, as the economy and office market can swing the other way while construction continues slowly.
In contrast, many lenders and investors have been attracted to fast-growing economies overseas, betting on an increasing need for office space. That, and many of the tallest buildings overseas have been backed, in part or full, by state-run companies that have their eyes on longer-term impacts.
One World Trade, of course, fits this mold. As a financial bet, the building would be a failure. With its $3.9 billion price tag, it was valued in 2010 by its developer, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, at about $2 billion. While this was a substantially higher cost than initially envisioned, the tower was pushed forward by former New York Gov. George Pataki and the Port Authority because of the desire to rebuild the site after America’s worst terrorist attacks.
Then again, maybe the construction of the world’s tallest building shouldn’t be something to boast about. Given that it only becomes easy for developers to find financing for their buildings in boom periods, the groundbreaking of world’s tallest building often comes shortly before the burst of an economic bubble.
“Often the world’s tallest buildings are simply the edifice of a broader skyscraper building boom, reflecting a widespread misallocation of capital and an impending economic correction,” analysts at Barclays PLC said in a report released in January.