Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

'No' to Silverstein

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

'No' to Silverstein

Article excerpt

THERE COMES a time when the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has to say no to developer Larry Silverstein. That time is Wednesday.

On Wednesday, the increasingly diminished Port Authority board of commissioners -- it is three short of a full complement of 12 -- is set to vote on whether to back $1.2 billion in construction loans so Silverstein can build 3 World Trade Center. Before the scandal about lane closures at the George Washington Bridge, what happened inside the Port Authority always stayed inside the Port Authority. But it is not Las Vegas on the Hudson anymore. That is a very good thing.

Commissioners historically voted unanimously on projects. That is not expected to happen Wednesday. Kenneth Lipper, a board appointee of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, believes the decision on 3 WTC funding is a vote for the soul of the Port Authority. Lipper wants the Port Authority to refocus on its core mission: regional transportation. In a meeting with The Record's editorial board last week, he cited the high vacancy rate at the World Trade Center. The Port Authority's own building, One World Trade, needs tenants. And the case is similar at Silverstein's completed 4 World Trade Center.

For Lipper, it makes no sense to add more commercial space in downtown Manhattan. He says it is currently a tenant's market and that if the downtown commercial market is as on fire as supporters of the Silverstein financing say, Silverstein should be able to get funding from the private sector.

Silverstein supporters, who include Port Authority Vice Chairman Scott Rechler and Executive Director Pat Foye -- also Cuomo appointees -- counter Lipper's arguments. In a phone conversation Thursday, they both said they believe it is important to build 3 WTC to complete the Trade Center site and that rather than make it more difficult to rent space in the existing towers at the Trade Center, a completed 3 WTC would make it easier. They also insist backing the construction loans is less a drain on Port Authority finances than a previous arrangement that would have had the Port Authority put hundreds of millions of dollars into the Silverstein project. …

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