Photo: iStockphoto | OlegAlbinsky
The first item for the week is a prime example of propaganda dressed up as a report. The media doesn’t seem to ever get tired of giving Larry Silverstein a platform for his wishful thinking. In this case, Janno Lieber, one of Silverstein’s top operatives, “reports” that there are no tenants lined up for 2 WTC but goes on to say that 3 WTC will open in 2016, never mentioning that without the anchor tenant that is going to trigger yet another huge public subsidy to Silverstein, the construction will not go forward.
Perhaps they have lined the tenant up and are keeping it to themselves for some reason, but the spin in this story is a good example of the dishonesty that has infected the entire project. It would be great if Mr. Lieber’s prediction proves true and we really are “at a lynchpin moment for the world’s recognition of what’s happening downtown.” The Observer article reveals that leasing in Lower Manhattan saw a 32 percent increase over just a decade ago and that six of this year’s top 10 deals occurred Downtown. But not one of them was at the WTC. What’s happening, indeed…
CRAIN’S New York Business
This item highlights again the murky accounting that characterizes the Silverstein investment in Ground Zero and how much of the redevelopment is being paid for and/or subsidized by the public. The Twin Towers Alliance has raised a host of questions and asked been asking for an accounting since 2007. If Silverstein Properties is awarded airline insurance money, which one way or another we will all pay for, that is one more reason why the overdue math at Ground Zero should be done — to determine where that money, if awarded, really belongs.
Silverstein received $4.55 billion in insurance proceeds for towers he was required to rebuild. How much of it was used for that purpose has yet to be established, but the evidence is not much. The Port Authority relieved Silverstein of the obligation to build the Freedom Tower and he gave the agency one billion in insurance proceeds to cover a $4 billion dollar building. New York State and New York City gave Silverstein over $3 billion dollars in federally backed Liberty Bonds and all he has to show for it — and over 3 billion in insurance proceeds — is one tower that has been underwritten by the Port Authority. He even took back his original down payment on the property from the insurance proceeds and has spent the last decade capitalizing on the WTC cachet in every conceivable way.
But the commuters and truckers who cross the Hudson know something’s not right. It is time for state and federal officials to finally do the audit they owe the public that will tell us exactly how wrong it really is.