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Carter's View

An article by Douglas Feiden in today's edition of The New York Daily News reports that "an iconic 79-story skyscraper long planned for Ground Zero that would have been taller than the Empire State Building appears to be dead."

"Developer Larry Silverstein has proposed a new financing scheme for the troubled site," the article maintained, "that discards the 1,270-foot Tower 2," a projected 2.3-million square-foot tower designed by Sir Norman Foster, "sources familiar with the project say."

The article said that Mr. Silverstein "In the past two weeks, he has come under intense pressure from Gov. Paterson to resolve his bitter war with the Port Authority." "Acting after Silverstein was slapped down last month in his bid to snag $3.5 billion in penalties from the PA because of building delays," the article continued, "Paterson urged him to throw more cash into the project and scale back his demands. Silverstein agreed and is offering to put as much as $250 million into his two remaining Church St. buildings - $175 million more than his last offer - and add $560 million from insurance and Liberty Bonds as well. To further reduce costs, he said he would push ahead with the 71-story, 1,137-foot Tower 3 - but dump Tower 2."

According to the article, "The Port Authority pooh-poohed the Silverstein proposal as insignificant, and one source familiar with the agency's thinking called it a 'non-starter,'" adding that "Port Authority bureaucrats had demanded a lot more "skin in the game" from the builder.

Mr. Silverstein has been battling the authority and an arbitration panel has threatened to come up with its own plan to get the Ground Zero long delayed redevelopment moving.

CBS issued a press release yesterday in which it said that Mr. Silverstein will claim in the broadcast of its "60 Minutes" program this coming Sunday that the lack of progress rebuilding Ground Zero is a "national disgrace."

In an interview with the program's Scott Pelley, Mr. Silverstein said he is "the most frustrated person in the world," adding that "it's hard to contemplate the amount of time that's gone by here, the tragic waste of time and what could have been instead of what is today." Silverstein says the delays are largely the result of bureaucracy.

An article by Tom Topousis in Wednesday's edition of The New York Post maintained that "Construction of the long-awaited World Trade Center transit hub could take a year longer than even the latest deadline set by the Port Authority, pushing the massive $3.2 billion project's completion date to 2015, a new report by the Federal Transit Administration has warned."

In article today by Theresa Agovino at crains.com said that "Mayor Michael Bloomberg praised developer Larry Silverstein for offering several proposals, including putting more of his own money at risk, to end his battle with the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey over building his towers at Ground Zero."

In his weekly radio show today, the article continued, "he also criticized the agency for delays and challenged it to step up to the plate and lay out its ideas," adding that Mr. Silverstein "had a very rational plan, and I can tell you at this point it is the Port Authority who has to come back."

If the authority cannot find "a way to propel the project forward," the article said, the mayor said "it should just get out of the way."

In a statement about the mayor's comments, the Port said it agreed with the mayor's assertion that construction needs to move forward. But it said that a "public bailout" for Mr. Silverstein isn't the answer, according to the article.

The mayor, the article continued, said it was the right time for progress since the recession had lowered the cost for materials and labor: "If we wait, it will cost us a lot more money," Mr. Bloomberg said. "People aren't going to move downtown as all this construction keeps going on and on and on, and this is a project that makes sense for everybody."

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Architecture Critic Carter Horsley Since 1997, Carter B. Horsley has been the editorial director of CityRealty. He began his journalistic career at The New York Times in 1961 where he spent 26 years as a reporter specializing in real estate & architectural news. In 1987, he became the architecture critic and real estate editor of The New York Post.