Frank Gehry’s Ground Zero Arts Center Finally Clears Its First Hurdle, Lots More to Come

When you think “theater” in New York, what comes to mind? Well, you’re wrong. You should have thought “starchitect Frank Gehry,” because he will soon be designing every new theater that gets built in the city. Or rather, he will if this current trend continues. Last month, you’ll recall that Gehry landed the Signature Theater commission, and now this week it’s been announced that his 2004-designed Ground Zero Arts Center is back in business. After years of wrangling, Crain’s reports that the city has “released the $50 million needed to construct the subterranean support structure for the center,” which was a fairly large hurdle for the developers to overcome and had long been seen as something of a longshot. But even so, now that they have that first go-ahead, there’s still a great deal of uncertainty, which is no new thing at all when it comes to building and the World Trade Center site. Here’s a bit:

But even if the foundation work moves ahead as planned, the project faces numerous challenges, leaving skeptics questioning whether it will ever be built.

For starters, once the underground work is finished, the city will have to wait at least four years to begin construction on the actual building, because the temporary PATH station that is on the site can’t be removed until the permanent transportation hub is finished. Estimates call for the Santiago Calatrava-designed station to be finished in 2014, but as is often the case with construction, there could be delays.

By then, building costs will likely be higher, and it is difficult to gauge what the fund-raising environment will be like.