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WTC Shocker: Merrill Lynch Dumps Freedom's Friend

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The outlook this morning at Ground Zero is even more bleak than usual. The Times reports that Merrill Lynch, reeling from financial losses, has broken off its talks with developer Larry Silverstein about taking over the Richard Rogers-designed 175 Greenwich Street, aka World Trade Center Tower 3. Silverstein had been hoping to use Merrill Lynch as a way to convince other major financial firms to move back to the WTC, and in fact, the Port Authority had even granted him a six-month construction extension on Towers 3 and 4 so there would be enough time to negotiate with Merrill and tweak the building to the firm's specifications. Oops. Just how bad is this news? Well, note in the rendering above a bustling Tower 3 with Santiago Calatrava's PATH terminal right next door. We already know the latter is headed for big changes, but the former may be completely screwed.

Bagli writes:

With no private tenants in sight, the economy teetering on recession and lenders reluctant to finance speculative office space, real estate executives and some officials of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey say that Mr. Silverstein, who is required to build three of the four towers, may find it hard to raise money for construction.Yikes. In its letter, Merrill Lynch wrote that after months of negotiations on concessions and tax breaks, “we are too far apart to continue the process. Accordingly, we wish to terminate further discussions of the proposed transaction." Merrill Lynch has once again entered negotiations with Brookfield Properties about extending the financial firm's lease at the World Financial Center. Are they the biggest teases in history? Tower 3, WFC, Hotel Penn tower?dudes, make up your friggin' minds already!
· Merrill Lynch Ends Talks on Moving to Ground Zero [NYT]
· Freedom's Friends Delayed, But Tower 3 May Get Lynch'd [Curbed]