WTC developer offers new proposal, hoping to bring Port Authority back to table
NEW YORK – Hoping to bring state officials back to talks on the future of ground zero, World Trade Center site developer Larry Silverstein offered a new proposal Friday to address complaints that he had demanded too much in exchange for giving up some of his rebuilding rights.But a top official with the site’s owners, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, said the proposal was “still unacceptable.” Port Authority Chairman Anthony Coscia said the agency’s staff will likely review it over the weekend and present a counterproposal next week. No formal talks have been scheduled.Silverstein sent the proposal a day after appealing to Gov. George Pataki to force the Port Authority back into talks. A leading state official had said that talks wouldn’t resume without a new offer from Silverstein.”If this is what takes to get the Port Authority back to the table, we’re happy to offer them some new thoughts to get the conversation going,” said Janno Lieber, who oversees the trade center site project for Silverstein.He wouldn’t specify how the proposal was different, but said it was comprehensive and “addresses many of the concerns and issues that we were in negotiations about the other night.”State officials walked out of the talks by a Tuesday deadline set by Pataki to renegotiate Silverstein’s $3.2 billion lease to the twin towers. They said the developer had asked for too large a share of billions of dollars in rebuilding money and other concessions in exchange for giving up rights to build two out of five planned office towers, including the iconic, 1,776-foot Freedom Tower.Pataki, the Port Authority, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and others publicly blasted Silverstein, saying he was putting greed over the public’s need to rebuild the site destroyed by terrorists in 2001.Silverstein appealed to the agency to renew talks and said he is eager to rebuild. “I’m a builder and a New Yorker, and I believe, like all New Yorkers do, the sooner we get this done the better.”The Freedom Tower is scheduled to break ground next month. Silverstein and the Port Authority had been discussing a deal to have the Port build the Freedom Tower and a smaller building, while Silverstein would build three other towers. The parties couldn’t agree on how to split the costs and share billions in insurance proceeds and tax-exempt rebuilding bonds.Coscia said the renegotiation of Silverstein’s lease, which he signed six weeks before the Sept. 11 attacks, had to put the agency in a position to pay to build out the trade center site and perhaps generate revenue to contribute to the site in other ways, such as funding the Sept. 11 memorial.”We’re not doing this so a bad real estate deal should become a good one for a private developer,” Coscia said. He said the agency could take legal measures as a last resort against Silverstein to complete the rebuilding.On his weekly radio show Friday, Bloomberg urged Silverstein to back down. “I thought the deal the governor offered Larry Silverstein was a better deal than I would have offered,” he said.Vail, Colorado
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