Gov. David Paterson has given World Trade Center site developer Larry Silverstein an ultimatum, saying construction at the site could go forward without his buildings.
Seeking to kick-start the long-delayed reconstruction at ground zero, Paterson sent a letter to Silverstein on Monday renewing an offer to help finance two of the developer's planned three office towers at the site. The letter also proposes a redesign of one of the buildings -- suggesting more shops and retail. Silverstein would have to put up over $600 million of his own money to receive financial backing for the second tower.
But should rebuilding plans remain stalled, Paterson said today he's asked the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the 16-acre site, to revise designs so that the public projects can be built independently of Silverstein's office buildings. This includes the mass transit hub and Sept. 11 memorial.
In a statement, Silverstein's office said its initial review indicates that the ideas set forth by Gov. Paterson won't work.
“These ideas also don’t address the principal issue – the Port’s chronic failures at the site. Every project for which the Port Authority is responsible has fallen years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget, hindering the entire WTC rebuilding effort," Silverstein properties said.
It also said it remains committed to seeing the reconstruction through.
Silverstein has had difficulty finding financing in the current real estate market and wants the Port Authority to guarantee as much as $3.2 billion in financing for two of the towers.
The Port Authority has said it will back one tower with about $800 million in return for Silverstein's investing additional money in building the infrastructure at the site. The impasse has threatened to stall completion of the memorial ahead of the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
Silverstein leased the twin towers six weeks before they collapsed in 2001.
The squabbling is one of many obstacles facing redevelopment in the area. A report issued earlier this year found that the World Trade Center Transportation Hub could cost nearly 30 percent more than was projected less than a year ago.