Wait, How Does Larry Silverstein Think These WTC Towers Will Get Built?

WTC Towers
Photo: Photo courtesy of Silverstein Properties


Larry Silverstein's feeling upbeat about the future, but we wonder about his grip on reality as it currently stands. Addressing a roomful of construction pros yesterday, the developer promised that the four towers he wants to build at the World Trade Center site will open by 2012 (with retail comprising “big boxes, little boxes, restaurants, and bars”) and told us later that the site would deliver “an urban experience” as walkable as Bleecker Street — “with bollards, of course.” Lovely. But Silverstein also claimed that construction inflation is starting to level off just as his architects are due to start confronting the problem of how to connect four distinct skyscrapers underground. “I was at the General Contractors Association table, and eyebrows went up when he said that,” says Rick Bell, head of the local American Institute of Architects chapter, who has visited the design studio where Silverstein's starchitects are laboring to cost out the towers' underground guts. “I didn't get any consensus on that from contractors or from architects.”

Indeed, architects we talked to say they hope construction prices start to moderate, but that the only big factor likely to cause that would be a slowdown in big state-sponsored projects. Is Larry betting that Moynihan Station will stall, freeing up more contractors to bid for his project and enabling him to drive a harder bargain? Maybe. When asked what he'd say to governor-designate David Paterson about the help he needs with the Trade Center site, Silverstein was fairly gloating: “I would say to him that all the contracts [with the Port Authority] have been signed, and other than that, Godspeed.” —Alec Appelbaum