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WTC Slapfight: Silverstein Rejects Port Authority Anew

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Seems the faint flame of hope ignited by last week's proposal by the Port Authority to put up financing of $1.2 billion to build Towers 2 and 3 at the World Trade Center site—so long as developer Larry Silverstein raised $600 million for the towers first—has been snuffed. "I think everybody who's involved in this process knows that that's just not available," says a Silverstein minion, as reported by the Tribeca Trib. Lowering the hammer anew, Silverstein reps say that, if they're forced into arbitration with the Port Authority later this month to resolve this whole mess, they'll be looking to make the PA pay—literally: "If we can't make a new deal, we have to find a way to get the money back [from the Port Authority] so we can build some buildings."

Meantime, Post flamethrower (and all around fine gentleman) Steve Cuozzo has another idea for breaking the impasse. Hint: it involves malls!

Cuozzo, it seems, has the mall-minded folks at the Westfield Group whispering in his ear again about the possibility of building up just a few stories at the Tower 2 and 3 sites—enough to accommodate a new shoppers' paradise:

Now, enter Westfield. The global retail development and management company says it "stands ready" to spend up to $1.3 billion to build six-story retail "podiums" housing 500,000 square feet on the Towers 2 and 3 sites. The towers theoretically could later be built atop the podiums when the office market recovers... ...That $625 million [that the PA demands Silverstein now raise] happens to be the exact amount that Westfield said last year it would put into a joint venture with the PA to own and manage the retail space Ground Zero. The PA and Westfield seem to have something up their sleeves -- for example, agreeing to Silverstein's loan request if he lets Westfield in on the action. But, whatever's going on behind the closed doors of the propaganda factories, it's time for all parties to make concessions.

Yes! Er, good luck with that! "There's some tendency to look at construction as if it's Lego, where you'll just build this much and then you'll build [the rest] later," a Silverstein rep told the Trib. "I think the community has lived enough with half-finished projects to know what I'm talking about."
· Silverstein, Rejecting Port Authority Offer, May Seek Damages [Tribeca Trib]
· Ending The Impasse [NYPost]