Turns out that next week’s grand opening of the Oculus transit hub won’t be very grand, and won’t open much.Earlier this year, the Port Authority proudly announced that the long-awaited, $4-billion World Trade Center Transportation Hub would finally open in the first week of March. But there will be no formal event to mark the official opening of a project more than a decade in the making — no speeches, no photo op, no triumphal ribbon cutting with a phalanx of politicians and Port Authority bigwigs wielding giant novelty scissors.
And all that’s really opening is a door.One entrance, near Church and Liberty Sts., will open to the public on March 3, finally allowing commuters into the soaring structure — which is still largely vacant, and will remain so until the retail component opens six months from now. And commuters venturing into the empty, cavernous transit hub next week will only be able to access a single train line — the P.A.T.H. train.go Calatrava, has been under construction for more than a decade — and it’s not quite done yet, despite its scheduled opening next week The extravagant concourse, originally projected to open in 2009, features a series of rib-like structures crossing over the peaked roof and jutting out on either side in a design intended to evoke a dove taking flight, but which has been less flatteringly compared to a stegosaurus — and a white elephant.The Oculus will eventually link commuters via underground passages with 11 subway lines, the P.A.T.H. train, and the Battery Park City Ferry Terminal, as well as several of the buildings in the surrounding World Trade Center complex and nearby Brookfield Place.
Once the transit hub is fully operational later this spring, the old P.A.T.H. station at Vesey Street will come down, according to Coleman, clearing the way for the much-anticipated World Trade Center Performing Arts Center planned for that site. Last November, the center’s board tapped Brooklyn architecture firm REX to design the structure, which it hopes will be ready to open in 2019.The Oculus will also eventually host the massive Westfield WTC mall — more than six football fields worth of retail space — which will make the transit hub Manhattan’s largest shopping center. But though the space is all leased, the 125 retailers won’t open until sometime in August, according to Westfield spokeswoman Molly Morse.