WTC deal could pave way for construction

March 26, 2010 12:03PM

In a tentative agreement announced yesterday, the construction of two towers at Ground Zero could receive around $1.6 billion in funds, ending a long-time impasse between developer Larry Silverstein and the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg emphasized the complexity of the deal, referencing the months of stalemate between Port Authority head Chris Ward and Silverstein.

“The political calculus is difficult because you have two states and [New York City], you have agencies, you have federal, state and city government, you have the private sector,” Bloomberg said. “It is very difficult to get everybody on the same page, but I think now we really are making progress.”

The original deadline for the compromise had been March 12, but negotiations continued past that time. Earlier this month, at the New York Building Congress breakfast, Ward said that he was concerned that public funds would be used to construct impractical buildings.

 “Let’s build what we know we need today,” Ward said. “But let’s not so use public resources that we might build monuments that one day [could] become empty buildings.”

He later told The Real Deal that he “hate[d] to think that we continue to beat ourselves up when we don’t have to.”

Silverstein said that he is confident that the agreement reached “will accelerate the rebuilding of the World Trade Center.”

But not everyone feels the same.

In a column posted early this morning, New York Post columnist Steve Cuozzo derided the agreement as accomplishing very little, and said that the settlement between Silverstein and the Port Authority would actually push back construction.TRD