Three-Level Observatory Planned for WTC

NEW YORK (AP) -

The former head of Madison Square Garden, Dave Checketts, will oversee the building of a three-story observation deck at the new One World Trade Center, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey announced Wednesday.

“This is much more than a terrific business opportunity for Legends,” Checketts told the Port Authority board. “We see it as a matter of trust, of strength, of perseverance and of rebirth.”

The observation area will be on the tower’s 100th through 102nd floors and will feature interactive displays, a theater, a gift shop and tours. The area will be enclosed and won’t feature any outdoor areas. Port Authority executive director Pat Foye said having an outdoor observation area was studied but was deemed not feasible.

Legends Hospitality, Checketts’s company, is committing $62.5 million in capital to the project, Foye said. He estimated just under 4 million people will visit the site each year and that it will generate about $875 million over the course of Legends’ 15-year lease. Admission will be charged to the observation area, but Foye declined to say how much it would cost.

The observation deck is scheduled to open in early 2015.