NEW YORK (AP) Declaring “Enough is enough,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said April 20 that government officials were through talking with developer Larry Silverstein over who should build what at ground zero and urged him to accept one of two proposals that reduce his role at the World Trade Center site.
“The negotiations, as far as I’m concerned, are over. This is it,” Bloomberg said. “We’ve been negotiating and negotiating. Enough is enough. And I think in any business negotiation, you get to the point where everybody recognizes that.”
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the 16-acre lower Manhattan site, presented to Silverstein on April 19 two offers that divide development rights and billions of dollars in rebuilding money for office and retail space at ground zero.
Officials from the city and the two states that control the Port Authority spent the past several weeks negotiating with each other before they could agree on a rebuilding plan to take to Silverstein. Talks with the developer, who holds a $3.2-billion lease to the fallen twin towers, broke down in mid-March.
“After waiting more than 35 days for the government to finally develop and submit its own proposal, we intend to take the time necessary to analyze it,” said Howard J. Rubenstein, a spokesman of Silverstein Properties.
Rubenstein said Silverstein was concerned about a provision in the deal that would allow the Port Authority to walk away by September if it chooses.
Port Authority officials didn’t comment on that part of the plan, but Spokesman John McCarthy said the agency looked forward to hearing from Silverstein “so we can reach a resolution shortly.”
Bloomberg and New York Gov. George Pataki, who appeared April 20 at a Brooklyn waterfront news conference, made it clear that the proposal puts an end to the questions about the future of the site and the symbolic Freedom Tower.
“There comes a point where it’s time to close things down, where all the negotiation is over, where the decisions have to be made,” Pataki said. “We are at that point.”
Silverstein was offered the chance to build three out of five planned office towers while surrendering the 1,776-ft. Freedom Tower, which had been scheduled to begin construction in April. Rather than move into the Freedom Tower, the Port Authority promised to relocate to one of Silverstein’s towers, along with more than 1 million sq. ft. of city and other government leases. The agency said the plan ensures the office towers will be built by 2012, three years earlier than planned.
The Port Authority said it would look to the federal government to fill office space at the Freedom Tower and develop two sides of the site at once. Eileen Long-Chelales, an administrator with the General Services Administration in New York, said the agency has been meeting with the Port Authority about relocating federal offices to the tower but still had questions about the tower’s design, its security and issues like parking and transportation.
Silverstein has a second choice, to take control of one of the five planned office buildings and $50 million and walk away from the rest of the site. Bloomberg said Silverstein should choose one option or the other and end the impasse immediately.
“This is something that is going to get done,” he said. “The people of this city and this region have had it, I think, with all of the delays.”