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Silverstein: Build it and they will come

By Konrad Putzier

Rendering of 3 World Trade Center
Rendering of 3 World Trade Center

Amid controversy over a planned public loan guarantee, developer Larry Silverstein gave an impassioned speech in support of his planned tower 3 World Trade Center.

“With 55 years in the business, I have been through a few up-and-down cycles… and I have learned that when you build, tenants will come,” Silverstein told the audience at Massey Knakal’s investment summit yesterday (Tuesday).

“In New York City, first-class office buildings will always fill up.”

Silverstein Properties has struggled to finance 3 WTC, a planned 80-story, $2.3 billion office tower in the financial district, and recently asked the Port Authority to guarantee construction loans totaling $1.1 billion.

But critics, including Port Authority commissioner Kenneth Lipper, argue that the tower will not be profitable and only worsen an office-space glut in the Financial District. A vote on the proposed loan guarantee is scheduled for late April or May.

Silverstein did not address the loan issue directly, but made a strong case for new office development downtown. “Companies moved (to 7 World Trade Center) because they believed — as I did — that downtown will become a premier business district again.”

Making the common argument that tech companies want open, well-lit spaces, Silverstein contended that New York City needs more new development to compete for top-tier jobs.

LARRY SILVERSTEIN
LARRY SILVERSTEIN

He also criticized Mayor Bill de Blasio for neglecting office space over his campaign for more affordable housing, and urged for a reduction in property taxes.

Asked about his take on the New York market, Silverstein bemoaned the fact that foreign capital has driven down yields.

“There is a sea of investment capital around the world looking to invest in hard assets,” he said. “They’ve driven the returns down to a level where it’s hard to justify buying. It is much easier today to develop than to acquire.”

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