The Port Authority has no immediate plan to sell 1 World Trade Center.
“There is no way they are going to sell that building right now,” former Governor David Paterson told Real Estate Weekly.
During an event for building owners on Monday night, Paterson moved to squash a report earlier this month that implied the iconic tower was on the block for upwards of $5 billion.
Port Authority executive director Patrick Foye was scheduled to speak during the Real Estate Principals Dinner hosted by accounting firm Eisner Amper.
However, Paterson said Foye had asked the former Governor to speak on his behalf after he was forced to cancel his keynote address as a result of “the high alert at the PA” following the weekend bombing in Chelsea.
“There is a rumor that 1 World Trade Center will be sold,” said Paterson. “That is unequivocally not the case.”
Paterson said the possible sale of the 1,776 ft. landmark had been floated as a result of a special committee set up in 2014 to prepare a report called The Future of the Port Authority.
“That report includes what to do with 1 World Trade Center,” conceded Paterson, noting, “The building opened in May 2015 and had seen more than one million visitors by September. Seventy percent of the office space has been leased; it has the largest transportation hub in the country with 365,000 s/f of retail
“There is no way they are going to sell that building. Could it be sold 10 years from now? Maybe, but certainly not right now. The response to 1 World Trade Center has been so much greater than we had anticipated.”
The Port Authority itself has moved to dispel notions of a possible sale. “One World Trade Center is an iconic, 21st Century Class A plus office tower with universal brand recognition and strong leasing momentum. Its substantial and growing Net Operating Income will, when the time is right for the Port Authority to monetize all or part of its ownership in the building, support a premium, world-class valuation. The Port Authority has been managing its real estate interests, with the divestiture of the World Trade Center retail project to Westfield for $1.4 billion as a prime example, as part of our commitment to refocus on our core transportation mission, taking into account impacts on its financial position,” the agency said in a statement.
Paterson spoke at the end of the first day of the so-called Bridgegate trial against two former aides to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. They stand accused of shutting down the George Washington Bridge as a form of political payback against Fort Lee mayor Mark Sokolich.
A leaked email from Foye ordering the lanes to be re-opened blew the lid off the plot that ended with Christie’s former deputy chief of staff, Bridget Anne Kelly, and former Port Authority deputy executive director Bill Baroni being charged with conspiracy and fraud in connection to the lane closures.
“Patrick Foye is the hero of Bridgegate,” said Paterson, adding that his longtime colleague had done an “exemplary job” as executive director of the PA since being appointed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2011.
Foye had been due to leave his post in March, but agreed to stay on as the agency searches for a new CEO that both Cuomo and Christie can agree on.
Since Bridgegate snarled GWB traffic for four straight days, Christie and Cuomo have agreed to a reform package that will see the appointment on one CEO answerable to the PAs board of commissioners instead of divvying up key positions between the two states
Paterson said, “Being the executive director of the Port Authority is a lot of hard work. Patrick Foye has given the governor six years of his service. I think he deserves a break.”
The Bridgegate trial on Monday unearthed claims that Gov. Chris Christie knew about the September 2013 GWB closures, something he has always denied and for which no charges have ever been pressed.
According to the New York Times, Brian Murray, a spokeman for Christie, declined to address whether the governor knew about the closings as they happened.
Instead, he pointed to statements his boss made in 2014. At the time, Christie said that he had no knowledge of the plan to close the lanes.
The EisnerAmper dinner, held at Inside Park at St. Barts, drew a crowd that included Mayoral candidate Paul Massey and developers Steve Witkoff and Ziel Feldman.
Paterson paid tribute to the owners and principals for their support of security services in the battle against terror.
He said that in the immediate aftermath of Saturday’s Chelsea bomb explosion and subsequent discovery of other devices “building owners and operators were extremely co-operative in giving police access to property and in closing down business in an effort to clear the area of people.
“The real estate leaders of Manhattan have always been supportive and reactive to the police and security services as we deal with these issues and they need to be commended or that.”