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WTC transit hub may finally fully open in 2015, officials say

Larry A. Silverstein, chairman of Silverstein Properties, Inc.,

Larry A. Silverstein, chairman of Silverstein Properties, Inc., during a news conference regarding the rebuilding, gives an update on the WTC at 4 World Trade Center on the 67th floor, in Manhattan, Sept. 9, 2014. Credit: Uli Seit

The controversial World Trade Center transportation hub, plagued by cost overruns and political bickering, should fully open toward the end of 2015, officials said Tuesday during an update on the reconstruction of lower Manhattan.

At a briefing for reporters about the state of rebuilding in the area devastated by the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks that killed nearly 3,000 people, Scott Rechler, a vice chairman of the Port Authority, which owns the transit center, acknowledged the facility could have been done less expensively.

One of the most expensive rail stations in the country, the hub, which services PATH trains to New Jersey and subway lines, is some eight years behind schedule and $2 billion over budget.

Rechler was among a group that included developer Larry A. Silverstein, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan), and urban planner David Libeskind, who put their best spin on the massive redevelopment. The project suffered through years of construction delays, lawsuits and political disagreements.

"We all wish we could have gotten it done faster, but that does not diminish the pride we all should feel," said Silverstein, who reported that his Silverstein Properties Inc. 4 World Trade Center, which is still undergoing finishing touches, opened last year and is getting attention from potential tenants.

Silverstein also noted that his company's 80-story 3 World Trade Center, slated for completion in 2018 after full financing is obtained, has signed a 20-year lease with GroupM, a media investment management company for more than 500,000 square feet of space in the building.

Libeskind, who was designated master planner for the site and developed the concept of the buildings, said he became inspired when he went down into the bedrock and touched the so-called concrete bathtub keeping the Hudson River from flooding the area.

Silver gave a nod to Silverstein's perseverance during the past 13 years in the face of many who doubted lower Manhattan could recover from such a catastrophic attack.

"Thirteen years ago, when so many said downtown would never recover from the barbarity which drove so many away, Larry echoed the spirit of our community when he said, 'Never bet against New York,' " Silver said.

One World Trade Center, once called The Freedom Tower, is the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere at 1,776 feet and is owned by the Port Authority. It is expected to open this fall and is 60 percent leased, with major tenants including Condé Nast publishing and Cushman & Wakefield.

The Memorial Plaza, which occupies the footprints of the destroyed Twin Towers, opened on Sept. 12, 2011. The National September 11 Memorial Museum opened in May.

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