Officials, WTC developer meet on rebuilding

May 21, 2009 4:46:39 PM PDT
At the World Trade Center, it's decision time. Should there be skyscrapers as planned even in this dismal economy or should the buildings be cut down to only six stories tall?

The mayor, governors and developer met to try to hash things out on Thursday.

Their decision? Meet again next month.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said after Thursday's meeting that June 11 is the date of the next meeting.

"It is intolerable to leave this hole in the ground. The real question is how do we get it done? Who pays for it?" said Mayor Bloomberg.

He also said that the elected officials and developer Larry Silverstein will each appoint a representative to meet in the meantime.

The mayor wouldn't even take reporters questions, but he did mention a compromise is desperately needed.

"Compromise is a word in the English language that's very important," Silverstein said.

Silverstein has had a hard time finding financing for the planned office towers and wants the Port Authority to back at least two buildings.

Besides Bloomberg and Silverstein, participants included New York Gov. David Paterson, New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine, New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and officials from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the land.

Corzine left the meeting without speaking to reporters. Paterson said, "I felt renewed vigor in the room with all the parties talking and cooperating."

The developer is trying to renegotiate his lease to build three of five office towers to replace the destroyed World Trade Center. Silverstein is having difficulty finding financing for the towers in the current real estate market and wants the Port Authority to back at least two of the buildings.

The Port Authority says it will back one tower with about $800 million in return for Silverstein investing additional money in building the infrastructure at the World Trade Center site, which includes the office towers, a public transportation hub and the Sept. 11 memorial.

The Port Authority has said it would not be realistic to build the five planned office towers in the current real estate market and has suggested waiting until the market rebounds.

There is a lot of public building downtown, but not a lot of private development.

"With the vacancy rate we have downtown, building these buildings on spec is obviously a concern," said Julie Menin of the Community Board One.

Menin knows it might have to be shorter buildings for now. That's bad news for businesss.

"Of course, we want to see the office towers built because it helps the small businesses," she said.

For now, though no decision. It's more negotiation. More waiting, at least until June 11.