Clarity Emerges at Ground Zero, and Larry Silverstein Clearly Is Not a Key Ingredient

Just hold your hand over the right side of the photo. Photo: Courtesy of Silverstein Properties

Today’s Port Authority report on ground zero’s future makes clear that Larry Silverstein’s office towers are in jeopardy and that nobody in government is too worried about salvaging them. A new schedule commits merely to a memorial-in-progress, a restored Greenwich Street, and increments of a PATH station by 2011, and Mayor Bloomberg said in a press conference that he doesn’t know whether Silverstein will build at all. “This is a great place to have your office,” the mayor offered gamely, “and if you build now you’ll probably have it when demand comes back.” But privately, a mayoral aide confided that the city is focusing on a memorial opening (at least for a day) by September 11, 2011, and on the Greenwich Street and PATH terminal goals. “You’ll have a memorial, you’ll have streets, you’ll have transit,” the aide said, citing ingredients to attract tourists and condo-buyers. As for offices, who knows? The Port Authority–owned Freedom Tower is under construction with tenant commitments, and the city has promised to lease space in the smallest of Silverstein’s proposed towers if no private (and more lucrative) tenant emerges. But even that two-tower scenario assumes Silverstein can get financing, which even the audacious developer refuses to assume.