Developer Larry Silverstein is facing a major problem in his quest to build an office tower at the former site of the World Trade Center: if he can't attract a major tenant for the building known as Tower 3, he can't build the 80-story skyscraper he envisions, and the edifice may instead be capped at seven stories.
The 2010 agreement with the Port Authority requires Mr. Silverstein to sign at least 400,000 square feet of office space in order to qualify for triple tax-exempt Liberty bonds and other public incentives.
Patrick Foye, executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, expressed optimism about Mr. Silverstein's prospects for meeting that goal.
"We're rooting, I'm rooting, the Port Authority is rooting for Larry and, if I had to hazard a guess, I think he'll come up with the tenant," Mr. Foye said at an industry event.
But an article in Crain's raised doubts, with sources saying Silverstein "is not currently close to signing a tenant."
Larry Silverstein said through a spokesperson that he is talking to several potential tenants and is committed to building the full 80-story tower - with or without Liberty bonds.
The construction schedule for Tower 3 projects the roof of the seventh floor being completed in 2013. Four stories have already been built.
Separately, Mr. Foye, who has been leader of the Port Authority only since October, laid out some of his goals in office. They include:
- A review and audit of the PA's operations and financial practices.
- Making use of a "peace dividend" akin to that which followed the Vietnam War, where the diminishing demands of one project (WTC redevelopment) gives way to a multitude of other worthwhile efforts, including improvements to transportation infrastructure.
- Lifting the Bayonne Bridge so the Kill Van Kull can accommodate the next generation of supertankers.
- Encouraging private companies, which employ dock workers, to hire more women and minorities in an industry Foy calls "one of the last bastions in our region of what can only be characterized as deliberate discrimination or inexcusable inertia."
- Streamlining regulations and reviews so that proposed construction projects can break ground more quickly.