Developer Scrambles to Meet Bloomberg's WTC Deadline

On the day of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's deadline for the World Trade Center developer and his landlord to settle their dispute over rebuilding the site, a deal appeared elusive.

“Conversations continue,” said Dan Weiller, a spokesman for Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, whose district includes the lower Manhattan site.
Silver, New York Gov. David Paterson and New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine attended a May 21 meeting with developer Larry Silverstein intended to resolve an impasse over ground zero redevelopment. Bloomberg convened the meeting and announced a Thursday deadline for an agreement.
Asked if there would be a deal to announce Thursday, Bloomberg spokesman Andrew Brent said only, “The parties are continuing to engage in active discussions.”
Silverstein is trying to renegotiate his lease to build office towers to replace the ones that were the destroyed on Sept. 11, 2001.
He's had difficulty finding financing in the current real estate market and wants the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the site, to guarantee as much as $3.2 billion in financing for two of the towers.
The Port Authority says it will back one tower with about $800 million in return for Silverstein's investing additional money in building the infrastructure at the 16-acre site, which includes the office towers, a transit hub and a Sept. 11 memorial.

After several weeks of sparring in public, the parties have kept a tight rein on information since the May 21 meeting.

“We're continuing to negotiate in good faith,” Port Authority spokesman Stephen Sigmund said Wednesday, “but funding a speculative second office tower means significantly more public resources, and our position continues to be that the public's resources are better spent on the public projects first.”
A spokesman for Silverstein had no comment.

Civic leaders said they remain hopeful the parties will make a deal.
Kathryn Wylde, president of the Partnership for New York City, a business group, said elected officials are putting pressure on Silverstein and the Port Authority “to each give something to make this work out.”
“There's a big question as to if we don't make a commitment to proceed now does that doom the site to sort of miss the next expansion cycle, which clearly would be unfortunate,” she said.
Robert Yaro, executive director of the New York-based Regional Planning Association, agreed.
“Everyone wants to see the site redeveloped,” he said. “I suspect they're going to work this out.”

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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