Sky’s the Limit: Black Contractors Wants To Build Tallest Skyscraper in NYC History

One World Trade Center may currently be the tallest skyscraper in the Western Hemisphere, but if a team of mostly Black contractors and lenders has its way, they will be leading the charge to eclipse the tower and make even greater history by becoming the first predominately African-American team to build a skyscraper in New York City. 

Don Peebles (Photo from Peebles Corporation website)

“This project is emblematic of true equity in developments,” Peebles told World Architecture. “A symbol for all who visit New York, cementing in brick and mortar that New York is serious about economic inclusion.”

Named “Affirmation Tower” by Don Peebles, CEO of the Peebles Corporation, the team also includes famed Ghanaian-British architect Sir David Adjaye, who designed the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC.; Cheryl McKissack Daniel, president and CEO of the oldest minority/women-owned design and construction firm; Exact Capital Group, a New York-based real estate development firm; and Steve Witkoff of real estate development firm the Witkoff Group. In addition to this core team, project leaders are committed to providing at least 35 percent of contracts to minority and women-owned businesses. 

Spearheaded by Peebles, the team has submitted a proposal to develop the project on a 1.2-acre lot adjacent to the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York. The proposed tower will be 1,663 feet tall and feature two hotels, an observation deck and a skating rink as well as commercial office space. The team expects the tower will provide an estimated 30,000 jobs to New York residents over the next six years; half of these jobs are expected to be permanent. These jobs are expected to generate $5 billion in new tax revenue over the next 30 years. 

The proposal has received support from real estate developers as well as from the local Black clergy. 

“This project will provide $4.4 billion of new economic output per year, bringing thousands of jobs in construction, design and development as well as millions of people across the globe who will be excited to see this iconic skyscraper,” Peter Ward, former president of the New York’s Hotel and Motel Trades Council told Real Estate Weekly.

Charles Curtis Sr., who serves as pastor of Mount Olivet Baptist Church and head of New York Interfaith Commission for Housing Equality, believes it is a step in the right direction of inclusivity in all facets of life in New York City. 

“The awarding of this project to this team will send a statement across the globe that architects, developers, engineers, and financial professionals of color are now full participants in this great miracle of global capitalism called New York City,” Curtis told Curbed. 


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