14 Manhattan projects to benefit from $50m Lend Lease blaze payout

One year after Lend Lease Construction agreed to a $50m legal settlement in the wake of a disastrous demolition project in lower Manhattan, New York state governor Andrew Cuomo has announced that the money will go to 14 projects in the area.

Parks, waterfront public spaces and community centres will benefit from the payout, which settled a case brought against Lend Lease Construction LMB (formerly Bovis Lend Lease LMB) and a subcontractor after a fire killed two firefighters at the former Deutsche Bank headquarters at 130 Liberty Street in August 2007.

This action will help strengthen these neighbourhoods in lower Manhattan and create a better environment for people to live, work and visit– Andrew Cuomo, Governor of New York

Lend Lease and its subcontractor, who were demolishing the building after it was damaged by the collapse of the World Trade Center towers in the 9/11 attacks, were cited in February 2008 for numerous violations of safety and health standards.

The settlement reached in 2015 comprises a payment of $40m to the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC) and the waiving of $10m owed to Lend Lease by the LMDC.

A working group of city and state officials was assembled to decide how to spend the $50m.

The largest beneficiary is a scheme expand the Hudson River Park, which will receive $10m. Another $7m will go toward redeveloping Pier 42; $6m will be spent on a playground at Battery Park and $4.8m will fund a community centre at the South Street Seaport Museum.

Governor Cuomo said in his statement: "This action will help strengthen these neighbourhoods in lower Manhattan and create a better environment for people to live, work and visit. The LMDC has been a major force in the rebuilding for this community, and with these projects, this progress will continue for years to come."

"Ground Zero": the Deutsche Bank is visible to the right, behind the red crane (KTH)

Joe Chan, the chairman of the LMDC, said: "Through years of litigation, LMDC leadership and staff fought aggressively to protect the interests of the taxpayers, who fund LMDC, and were able to settle this case on very favourable terms for the state and city."

The Hudson River Park is one of New York’s construction hotspots, with $8bn of construction work taking place with a quarter mile of it between 2000 and 2014, according to a report released at the end of last week by the Regional Plan Association.

UK consulting engineer Arup is the project manager for the development of the 550 acre space, which is on the west side of Manhattan.

The Deutsche Bank demolition project faced years of delays and cost overruns, partly because of the amount of toxic dust deposited in the building by the Twin Towers’ collapse. Then, in August 2007, a fire broke out that led to the deaths of two firefighters.

The widow of one of the firefighters, Joseph Graffagino, sued Lend Lease and the city over alleged safety lapses at the site and received a $10m settlement.

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