Freedom Tower Renaming Draws Criticism

April 1, 2009 Updated: October 1, 2015

Artist's rendering released September 7, 2006, shows the Manhattan skyline as proposed after the construction of the future buildings in lower Manhattan. (RRP, Team Macarie via Getty Images)
Artist's rendering released September 7, 2006, shows the Manhattan skyline as proposed after the construction of the future buildings in lower Manhattan. (RRP, Team Macarie via Getty Images)
NEW YORK—The Freedom Tower was formally named One World Trade Center at the signing of a lease between the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) and Chinese company Vantone Industrial Co., March 26. The groups inked a lease that will create the China Center—a 191,000 square foot business and cultural center that will occupy more than five floors of the tower. Immediately following the lease signing, China Center provided the Port Authority with a $10 million letter of credit.

The name change has drawn flak from former New York Gov. George Pataki, who first gave the Freedom Tower its name in a 2003 speech. "The Freedom Tower isn't going to be One World Trade Center, it's going to be the Freedom Tower," he said in an AFP report. "I think One and Two World Trade Center are sacred names which should never be used again."

Spokesman for PANYNJ Steve Coleman said the agency was utilizing the best strategy to make sure the building is fully occupied.

“We’ve referred to the primary building planned for the site as One World Trade Center, its legal name and street address, for almost two years now, as well as using the name the Freedom Tower. Many will always refer to it as the Freedom Tower, but as the building moves out of the planning stage and into full construction and leasing (the building is now ten stories above ground), we believe that going forward it is most practical to market the building as One World Trade Center,” Coleman said in a statement. When called he would not comment further on the name change or the China Center.

Former mayor Rudy Giuliani also protested against the name change. “I think it’s a mistake, a big mistake,” Giuliani said during a Fox and Friends news broadcast. “As to it being more marketable—it wasn’t terribly marketable as One World Trade Center. It was never a successful building," he said.

The World Trade Center Survivors' Network did not return an email before print.

Three billion dollars of public money is being pumped into the reconstruction of the World Trade Center 16-acre site after the Sept. 11 attacks. Completion for the tower is expected in 2014. Ten of the building's planned 108 above-ground floors have been built.

A Port Authority press release said the China Center obtained “vigorous support” from the Tianjing municipal government. The New York Investment Fund, an arm of the Partnership for New York City has also committed up to $3 million to support the China Center. “The Investment Fund worked with Vantone Industrial to gain the support of the Chinese government for one of the first authorized offshore real-estate investments,” said the statement.

The China Center has submitted an application under the Empire State Development Corporation’s World Trade Center Rent Reduction Program for a $5 per square foot reduction in leased space, which would bring the rent down to $75 per square foot.

Follow Charlotte on Twitter: @charlottecuthbo