Ground Zip, Zero, Zilch

East, East Coast
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
.

A photo of the World Trade Center site from January 12 shows progress on the memorial (center), 1 WTC (top left) and Tower 4 (bottom right) but not Tower 2 or Tower 3 (top right). (WTCProgress/Flickr)

That’s how much the Port Authority owes developer Larry Silverstein, after an arbitration panel’s ruling yesterday, which Silverstein Properties announced in a press release today. The developer had been seeking monetary damages and reduced rents because, Silverstein argued, the PA had delayed in turning over the sites of Tower 2 and Tower 3, also known as 200 and 175 Greenwich, designed, respectively, by Norman Foster and Richard Rogers. The arbitrators, who Silverstein tapped in July, found this not to be the case, though it is not entirely clear why as their decision has not been publicly released.

Despite today's decision, what will become of 200 and 175 Greenwich (left and center), designed by Norman Foster and Richard Rogers, respectively, and when they might get built, remains to be seen.

The fate of those towers, and the financing Silverstein has been all but demanding from the PA, remains an open question, but the one victory the developer did win was a reprieve from a 2014 deadline to finish all three buildings, lest control of them revert to the PA. Now, the two have 45 days to work out a new deadline, which could also take pressure off Silverstein to demand financing for buildings some analysts say there will be no demand for for decades.

Given the panel’s unfavorable decision for him, the fiery Silverstein was surprisingly conciliatory in his statement. “I greatly appreciate the hard work and professionalism of the members of the arbitration panel. They did a huge amount of work in a very compressed timeframe,” he said. In its own release, the PA thanked the arbitrators for “issuing a responsible decision that protects public resources while creating a positive environment in which the visible, daily progress on the site can continue moving forward.”

UPDATE: Mayor Michael Bloomberg, in his own statement, hits the nail on the head: “As expected, the arbitration has not resulted in a resolution. But one thing is clear from the ruling: there is a deal to be made. This is a critical moment to move forward with the long-term development of the site. The parties cannot let it pass without progress.” And the Times reports that Silverstein was requesting $2.75 billion—yes, that’s billion—in damages, an amount that likely would have gone a long way toward drumming up financing for the other towers.

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