Most New Yorkers know Larry Silverstein as the leaseholder on the World Trade Center. What they may not know is that he signed that lease in July 2001, just eight weeks before it was destroyed.
“The decision to acquire the trade center was, as it turns out, a terrible one. My timing was awful,” says Silverstein. But Silverstein’s timing on 9/11 could not have luckier. Rather than attend a breakfast meeting at Windows on the World atop the north tower, his wife convinced him to keep a doctor’s appointment, saving his life.
One of his first decisions after the attacks was to move aggressively to rebuild 7 World Trade, which had also collapsed.
“We needed to do something quickly, because everybody was fleeing Lower Manhattan. Residents, residential tenants were leaving. Commercial tenants were leaving en masse,” says Silverstein.
The new 7 World Trade reopened in 2006, the first and, to this day, only part of the complex to be rebuilt.
At the time, the rest of the site was still a pit, proof, Silverstein says, that he was not the greedy obstructionist some portrayed him as. Rather, he attributes the delays to a lack of continuity.
“We’ve lived with two mayors, four governors of the state of New York, five governors of the state of New Jersey, and five executive directors of the Port Authority,” says Silverstein.
Now, of course, construction is booming. While the Port Authority took over Tower One, Silverstein is building Towers Two and Three on the eastern side of the site. Those buildings won’t be completed until financing and tenants are secured, but Silverstein says there is intense interest.
There’s also Silverstein’s Tower Four, which is now 39 stories and rising.
“You can now begin to get a sense of the design quality of that building and the beauty that will be intrinsic in it,” says Silverstein.
View Downtown Manhattan’s future skyline
This megacomplex include:
Five new skyscrapers (1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 WTC)
The National September 11 Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center
The World Trade Center Transportation Hub
550,000 square feet of retail space
Performing Arts Center
This vision represents an unprecedented merging of architects, artists, and urban developers, including Santiago Calatrava, David Childs, Norman Foster, Frank Gehry, Fumihiko Maki, and Richard Rogers. The singular goal is a grand new urban center for 21st century New York.
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