When the Space Shuttle Orbiter Enterprise lands at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum in Manhattan over the next summer, Paul Hastings real estate partner Robert Wertheimer can say that he had a hand in the retired spacecraft’s arrival.
Wertheimer led a free Paul Hastings team representing the Intrepid Museum Foundation in the acquisition of Enterprise from NASA. The firm’s team is working on the matter also included the litigation partners Charles Patrizia and Robert Sherman, and real estate senior associate Nathalia Bernardo.
The Enterprise, who is now housed in a Smithsonian Institution hangar in Chantilly, Virginia, was the very first space shuttle that was built. It was completed way back in 1976 for flight tests but was never launched into space.
In the month of April, NASA announced that the museum would be one of the four institutions in the country to receive a space shuttle from its recently retired fleet. Bernardo says that the Paul Hastings team had actually begun preliminary work on the Intrepid’s bid to land the shuttle in the fall of 2010, and stepped up to those efforts after the April announcement. The Enterprise is scheduled to be opened up to the public viewing next summer.
The New York public radio station WNYC reported that the Smithsonian is donating the shuttles to their new homes completely for free, though ”some of the museums will have to pay for the massive costs of preparing and transporting them”–up to $42 million per each shuttle. The Intrepid Museum President Susan Marenoff-Zausner told WNYC that the Enterprise ”may cost significantly less to move that the others.”
Paul Hasting’s Wertheimer says that the transaction is very unique. ”Nasa,” says Wertheimer, ”has not been in the habit of getting rid of the things that they own.”
In addition to the hammering of the details of the transaction, the Paul Hastings team also had to work out all of the logistics of safely transporting the shuttle from Virginia to Pier 86 of the Hudson River Park on Manhattan’s West Side. This move will see Enterprise flown aboard a 747 in a ferry-flight to John F. Kennedy International Airport in the spring-time. The retired shuttle will now be taken by the barge up the Hudson River and lifted by a water-based crane to the flight deck of the USS Intrepid aircraft carrier, which is attached the the museum building.
Wertheimer says that Paul Hastings has been proving free counsel to the museum foundation for almost 15 years. Martin Edelman, who is the real estate of counsel at Paul Hastings, serves at the vice chairman on the Intrepid’s board.
The firm’s work from the past includes representing the museum in its 2003 acquisition of the decommissioned Concorde aircraft. ”So, when the shuttle came along, it was natural for them to look to us. And, we were happy to do it,” says Wertheimer.