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Right Intention: More Corruption At The UN

Monday, May 16, 2005

More Corruption At The UN

John Hinderaker brings us up to speed on the latest UN thievery. Apparently the organization wants to renovate its New York headquarters. The evil US will pay for it, of course, through a low interest loan. If this loan is repaid, a good chunk of the funds will come from our outsized contributions to the UN budget. Essentially, we are loaning money to ourselves to benefit an organization that detests our very existence. Seems kind of stupid to me.

But the bigger problem is the cost of the project is more than double what New York commercial real estate experts say it should cost. From the Feb 4th New York Sun:

The United Nations has said its plans to renovate its headquarters at Turtle Bay will cost $1.2 billion.

That strikes Donald Trump as far too much. "The United Nations is a mess," the developer said yesterday, "and they're spending hundreds of millions of dollars unnecessarily on this project."

And he's not the only one. Several Manhattan real-estate experts told The New York Sun this week that renovating premium office space should cost a fraction, on a per-square-foot basis, of what U.N. officials expect to pay.

An executive managing director at the commercial real-estate firm Julien J. Studley Inc., Woody Heller, said a thorough renovation of an office building would probably cost between $85 and $160 per square foot.

An executive vice president at Newmark, Scott Panzer, said renovation prices could range between $120 and $200 per square foot. Mr. Panzer, who works with many corporations to redevelop their buildings for future efficiency and energy cost savings, put a price of $70 to $100 per square foot on infrastructure upgrades. Those would include heating; ventilation; air conditioning; replacing the central plant; fenestration (specifically, switching from single-pane to thermal-pane windows); upgrading elevator switch gears, mechanicals, and vertical transportation; improving air quality, and making security upgrades. On top of that amount, another $50 to $100 per square foot would take care of the inside office improvements.

The chairman of global brokerage at commercial real-estate firm CB Richard Ellis, Stephen Siegel, said high-end commercial renovation usually runs $50 to $100 per square foot. For a renovation that does not include new furniture--according to the 2002 Capital Master Plan, the United Nations' will not--but does provide for improved heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning equipment, as well as work on the building exterior, the cost would be closer to the $100 end of the range, Mr. Siegel said. Even accounting generously for upgrades that might be peculiar to the United Nations, Mr. Siegel added, he would set $250 per square foot as the absolute maximum.


Hmmm. Seems as if some people at the UN expect to line their pockets. Yeah, I know. Something new and different.

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