Silverstein, Port Authority Escalating Green Efforts at Ground Zero

With $2 billion in construction contracts already on the street for the $20 billion redevelopment of the World Trade Center site, Larry Silverstein calls the project a “freight train – the only way to stop it will be when all of the [LEED Gold] buildings are complete.”

Yesterday, the New York Building Congress held a Luncheon Forum at the Ritz-Carlton in Battery Park City. Sharing remarks were Larry Silverstein, whose Silverstein Properties continues to move forward with redevelopment efforts at the World Trade Center site, and Anthony Shorris, Executive Director of the Port Authority. Mr. Silverstein first provided an overview of the massive $20 billion project, which is still on track for full occupancy in 2012. He also announced that the World Trade Center Design Studio on the 10th floor of LEED Gold 7 WTC, where 120 design team members have been working for the past 18 months, will now be known as the World Trade Construction Center. “We’ve got $2 billion in construction contracts- for concrete, steel, and elevators- on the street right now,” Mr. Silverstein said. “This project is like a freight train- the only way to stop it will be when all of the buildings are complete.”

All of Mr. Silverstein’s towers at Ground Zero, including the Freedom Tower, will pursue a LEED Gold rating from USGBC. Foundation work for Towers 3 and 4 along Greenwich Street should be moving forward full steam by the end of the month, and the Port Authority will turn over Site 2 to Mr. Silverstein by the middle of the year. As you may recall, Norman Foster’s design for 200 Greenwich Street contemplates 2.3 million square feet of office space on sixty floors, 138,000 square feet of retail space, and four trading floors. Sites 3 and 4 will be home to Richard Rogers’ 71-story, 1,147-foot 175 Greenwich Street and Fumihiko Maki’s 64-story, 975-foot minimalist 150 Greenwich Street, respectively.

Mr. Shorris pointed out the Port Authority’s unique relationship with Mr. Silverstein; Silverstein Properties will be the agency’s landlord at 150 Greenwich Street, where the Port Authority has signed a lease for 600,000 square feet at $59 per square feet. “He’s also our largest tenant,” Mr. Shorris noted, as Silverstein holds a 99-year ground lease on the entire 16-acre site that he inked with the Port Authority a slim six weeks before the terrorist attacks of September 11.

The rebuilding negotiations between the two sides were contentious and well-publicized, but both Mr. Silverstein and Mr. Shorris were emphatic that the redevelopment will continue to move forward, regardless of the current, unexpected transition in Albany and credit market uncertainties. “You can count on the schedule,” Mr. Silverstein said, “you bet.” Downtown is critical to New York City’s welfare and will soon serve as the country’s highest-profile laboratory for green construction practices. It’s imperative that Governor Paterson and other politicians recognize its importance, particularly from the perspective of the local sustainability movement, and ensure that construction at the site continues as scheduled.

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