Governor Pataki, you can kiss your April "Freedom Tower" groundbreaking goodbye: Talks between World Trade Center leaseholder, the developer Larry Silverstein, and the Port Authority (WTC owner) went nowhere yesterday, as the deadline to . So enter the namecalling: Tthe PA calling Silverstein greedy and Silverstein saying that the PA "elected to suspend talks." The Times reports that talks "nearly blew up" many times during the waning hours of negotiating time (the deadline was 12:00AM), while the Post explains how the talks went:
The PA and Silverstein spent much of the day negotiating - until both sides took a break at 6 p.m. with an outline on the table that called for the developer to assume control of Towers 2, 3 and 4 on Church Street, officials said.
Silverstein would also have gotten control of the state's $1.3 billion share of tax-exempt Liberty Bonds and receive a rent reduction from the PA. In turn, the PA would have developed the much-riskier 1,776-foot Freedom Tower and a fifth building south of the site on Liberty Street, officials said.
But Silverstein returned to the negotiating table at 11:30 p.m. - some 51/2 hours later - with a revamped plan that called on the PA to bear all the risks of building the skyscrapers, including any cost overruns, officials said.
The city had said it would consider giving Silverstein more money in Liberty Bonds (which he's wanted) if he could work things out with the Port Authority, but who knows now? And another concern is that it will be hard to finds tenants for Freedom Tower. Um, isn't that what people have been wondering about all along? This whole mess roils our stomach, because it just seems too full of the worst combination of factors for decision-making: Money, politics and real estate.
Some other numbers: Silverstein's 99 year lease is worth $3.2 billion; his monthly rent on the WTC is $10 million; he was award $4.6 billion in insurance after September 11, but it's still unresolved how much of that he will get. And keep this in mind: Whoever becomes the new NY governor will relook at the whole project, so we'll probably having a construction site down there for decades. Gah.