Prosecutor probing World Trade Center observation deck lease
NEW YORK (AP) — Prosecutors are investigating the procurement process behind a contract awarded to Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones’ company to operate the World Trade Center’s observation deck.
Prosecutors from the office of Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. have subpoenaed records pertaining to “the procurement process for the award of the lease” for the three-floor deck at One World Trade Center, the nation’s tallest building, according to a bond filing by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the site and operates the building.
The Port Authority is controlled by Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who’s a Cowboys fan and a friend of Jones.
In March 2013, officials announced that Legends Hospitality LLC, co-owned by Jones, was selected from six proposals to operate the observation deck on floors 100, 101 and 102. The development includes a public space on the 100th floor, restaurants on the 101st floor and an event space on the 102nd floor of the 104-floor building.
Representatives from the Port Authority, which also operates area bridges, tunnels and transit hubs, didn’t return a message seeking comment on Thursday. Manhattan prosecutors and Legends said they had no comment.
Christie, a potential 2016 presidential candidate, said in a January radio show he became friends with Jones in September 2013, six months after the observation deck contract was awarded. He called critics then “partisan hacks” and “aluminum-foil-on-their-head conspiracy theorists.”
Representatives for Jones and Christie, who attended a playoff game against the Detroit Lions together and shared a victory hug, didn’t immediately return messages seeking comment Thursday.
The Port Authority bond filing released Tuesday also details numerous other inquiries by various regulators and agencies, including from federal prosecutors in New Jersey, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, a New Jersey legislative committee and the state’s ethics commission.
The Port Authority and Christie have come under increased scrutiny since lane closures near the George Washington Bridge in September 2013 caused traffic backups that apparently were ordered by administration officials for political retribution against the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee, New Jersey, after he didn’t endorse Christie for re-election. Christie has denied any prior knowledge of the traffic scheme and called it “inexplicably stupid.”