Cost of U.N. Renovation Soars to $1.9 Billion - November 17, 2005 - The New York Sun

Cost of U.N. Renovation Soars to $1.9 Billion - November 17, 2005 - The New York Sun: "Initial planning for the project was conducted in 2000 and again in 2002, yielding a cost estimate of $1.2 billion. The United Nations determined it needed to empty its premises entirely during the renovations, citing dangers posed by asbestos and other construction hazards. Offices of the world body were to be temporarily housed in a 900,000-square-foot, 35-story 'swing space' to be erected by the United Nations Development Corporation, a city-state public benefit corporation, over a neighboring city park.

Because the New York State Legislature did not issue the approvals necessary for the U.N. to seize Robert Moses Playground, the U.N. sought to rent about 700,000 square feet of commercial office space as an alternative.

Today's report, however, states that the 'failure of plans for the UNDC5 building,' as the swing space is called by the U.N., render it 'no longer a realistic option for swing space in the foreseeable future.' Moreover, 'no commercial solutions were found to accommodate the activities of the General Assembly and other intergovernmental organs,' the report states.

As a result, the secretary-general is recommending that the world body undertake its renovation in stages, under one of the four strategies for the refurbishment project set forth in the new report. Under "Strategy IV," the option endorsed by the secretary-general, a "phased approach" is undertaken. Ten floors of the Secretariat building at a time would be vacated and renovated, and the United Nations would lease approximately 228,000 square feet of commercial space in Midtown Manhattan to house the displaced staff.

The world body would also rent commercial space in Long Island City to temporarily house the Dag Hammarskjold Library, and would erect temporary conference facilities on the U.N.'s North Lawn, a park on the world body's campus that is closed to the public. Under all four options, the U.N. would abandon plans to renovate the building occupied by the U.N. Institute for Training and Research, and today's report suggests the possibility of jettisoning that building as a U.N. property altogether, saying it "is not a cost-effective building to operate over the long term.


The project would be completed in 2014, four years later than the United Nations said it had hoped to finish the upgrades."

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