It's almost impossible to see what progress has -- or hasn't -- been made at the World Trade Center site from the surrounding streets of Lower Manhattan. Construction is under way on 1 World Trade Center, a memorial and a transit hub.
The proposed agreement will allow four office towers to be built, although one will be delayed indefinitely because of the poor economy. The tentative arrangement was announced by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey following a board meeting Thursday.
"We are in a position where the parties are all on the same page," Port Authority Chairman Anthony Coscia said.
The parties will have 120 days to negotiate details of the deal announced Thursday. The agreement will then be presented to the Port Authority board for final approval.
Construction is under way on 1 World Trade Center, a memorial and a transit hub, but other planned towers have been stalled in a dispute over financing.
The plan calls for the immediate restoration of the east side of the WTC site to at least street level, the completion of Tower 4 by 2013 and the phase-in of Towers 2 and 3 over time. All other projects, including the 9/11 Memorial, One World Trade Center, the WTC Transportation Hub and other public infrastructure, will continue moving forward.
The proposed development plan is the result of negotiations between the city, Silverstein Properties, the Port Authority, the States of New York and New Jersey over how to finance and build the three office towers on the east side of the WTC site, the parties said in a joint statement today.
Under the proposal outlined Thursday, Silverstein Properties is responsible for building Towers 2, 3 and 4 while the Port Authority will develop One World Trade Center and Tower 5, in addition to the WTC Transportation Hub, the 9/11 Memorial, the Vehicle Security Center, Greenwich and Fulton Streets, retail development and related infrastructure.
The agreement strikes an important balance between the redevelopment goals, financial risks and rewards between the public and private sector, the parties said in a statement. To protect public interests, mediators developed private development benchmarks.
Developer Larry Silverstein applauded the tentative agreement.
"Today’s agreement between my company and the Port Authority will accelerate the rebuilding of the World Trade Center. This is great news for New York," he said in a statement. "I'm grateful to Governor Paterson, Mayor Bloomberg, Speaker Silver, Governor Christie and all their hard-working staff members for their determination to make sure Downtown re-emerges as a world-class neighborhood – for the business and residential community, and for visitors who will be drawn to the Memorial and everything Downtown has to offer."
The proposed development plan and framework would include the following key elements:
To help Silverstein Properties obtain this private financing without a full public backstop, it would receive a capped public backstop of $390 million from the Port Authority, New York State and New York City, together with $210 million of equity from the City and the State of New York, with each public entity’s contribution limited to a total of $200 million.
Any payments under the backstop would be reimbursed by Silverstein Properties and the public sector entities would also have a future Tower 3 capital events participation. The City’s contribution is to be paid for using foregone revenues that will not be collected if the tower does not go forward. Until the public backstop is removed, Silverstein Properties would not be entitled to take profits out of Tower 3.
State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, whose district includes the trade center site, praised the agreement.
"It is a great statement that we will rebuild lower Manhattan,'' Silver said, adding, "I think it's a deal that works for everybody. The taxpayers are protected.''