Brookfield is cutting down the trees — planted in 2002, when the Winter Garden reopened a year after the Sept. 11 attacks — because they have grown too tall for the 10-story glass-enclosed space, the company said.
“The palms are being removed as they have exceeded their normal indoor life, which is generally 10 years,” Brookfield said in a statement. “Our landscape architects at John Mini Distinctive Landscapes have determined that the palms have achieved the maximum height under the Winter Garden’s glass ceiling and have begun to show signs of curvature and twisting.”
New, smaller palm trees will replace the old ones between Aug. 19 and 23, Brookfield said. The new trees were first reported by Tribeca Citizen.
As of Wednesday, eight of the 16 trees had already been been taken down. The work is done at night, when the complex is closed.
The old trees will be mulched and used in gardens at local hospitals "to honor their role in the Winter Garden that made it both a place to meet and a place to rest, " Brookfield said. "The palms quickly came to symbolize new beginnings and change, and so much positivity."
Several passersby in the Winter Garden Wednesday said they were sad to see the palm trees go.
"I've watched them grow up," said Christina Chu, an accountant who's worked in the Brookfield complex of buildings and lived in the area for several years. "It's sad."
Chu, unlike many asked about the trees, also wished that the company wouldn't bring in new palm trees, since, she said, their 10-year indoor life is not that long.
"Palm trees need warmer climates to thrive — they're meant to be out in the sunshine," she said, "and they can't really have that here in New York."
Other were happy that new palms were on their way.
"I think it'll breathe new life into the building," said Naren Jayaraman, 33, who's worked in Brookfield Place for the past four years. "These trees look like they are aging, their leaves aren't as green, they are dropping — it's time to move on."
But some hoped that the more-than-60-foot trees would move out to someplace sunny, not get mulched.
"They're still alive," Chu said. "They should go to Florida or Miami, replant them.... It's a shame."
A spokesman for Brookfield said the company did look into replanting the trees in a warmer climate, but their landscape architects determined it was "neither practical or feasible."
"Mature uprooted trees would go into shock if not replanted immediately," the spokesman said. "And, given the mammoth size of these palms, the necessary expedited shipping and replanting wouldn’t be logistically feasible."