For the second time in as many months, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey on Wednesday postponed a vote on a financing deal to complete the 3 World Trade Center tower, an indication that the agency is still divided over how much it will commit to the long-delayed project.
At stake is a planned 80-story building that is stalled at about seven stories as the negotiations continue between the Port Authority and developer Larry Silverstein over amendments to a 2010 agreement.
The issue bubbled to the surface during a public discussion at last month's Port Authority board meeting when several board members expressed opposition to a proposal that would have had the Port Authority guarantee a $1.2 billion loan for Silverstein. On Wednesday, board vice chairman Scott Rechler and executive director Patrick Foye said negotiations are focused on bringing more private financing into play to reduce the Port Authority's risk.
Board member Kenneth Lipper said of the $1.2 billion plan Wednesday: "The votes aren't there for it. It's dead."
Foye said a combination of factors has led to more private-sector interest in the project.
"The economy is continuing to improve, leasing activity downtown continues to be robust, and I think the discussion of the board in April and the focus on private sector parties has encouraged both the Port Authority, (Silverstein) and private-sector parties on their own to put their hands up, and there are multiple discussions underway," he said.
Foye didn't give a deadline for when the agency would vote on the matter, but noted that media company GroupM has agreed to lease space in the yet-to-be-completed tower.
Silverstein, meanwhile, expressed surprise that a deal hadn't yet been reached and implied that he has been the one to make concessions.
"Over the past month we felt we had made substantial progress on the terms of a 3 World Trade Center agreement," he said. "Having agreed to the requests conveyed by Port Authority leadership, we are surprised that the discussions did not yield a successful resolution. We remain committed to working with the Port Authority to reach an agreement that accomplishes our shared mission of building 3 WTC."