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First rebuilt Trade Center skyscraper opens

May 23, 2006

By Gary Hill

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The first skyscraper rebuilt after
being destroyed in the September 11 attacks opened on Tuesday
with fanfare and a pledge from its developer it would be a
model for completing the entire World Trade Center complex by
2012.

A 57-story steel and glass building with 1.7 million square
feet of office space, 7 World Trade Center was declared open
when developer Larry Silverstein cut a blue ribbon after a
bright and breezy outdoor ceremony in which schoolchildren and
an Irish tenor sang “God Bless America.”

“Lots of emotion. It’s a very joyous day. This was the last
building to go down on 9/11 and the first to come back,” said
Silverstein.

Airier, taller and slimmer than the 47-floor building it
replaced, the new, $700 million 7WTC was designed with safety
and environmental enhancements the builders say are expected to
form the basis of future high-rise building codes.

The original building, erected in 1987, collapsed when
falling debris from the Twin Towers sparked fires that weakened
its structure.

Asked if he expected 7WTC to be fully leased in a year,
Silverstein said: “I certainly do.”

Space in 7WTC rents for $50 a square foot with subsidies
available, making it “significantly less” than rents in midtown
Manhattan, Silverstein said.

But he would not say how much space has been leased.

“There are a combination of leases that have been
accomplished and leases in negotiation and you put it all
together, you come up with a number that is very significant.
We are in very, very good shape,” the developer told reporters.

He would not name potential renters, saying only: “We’re
talking about major tenants, recognized names, quality people.”

He acknowledged that the exhaustive wrangling over
rebuilding the World Trade Center site, including a showpiece
Freedom Tower, has been “very difficult” but said 7WTC would be
a model for how to proceed.

“It is my belief by 2012 we will have finished the rebuild
of the World Trade Center,” he said.

WEEKS BEFORE SEPT. 11

Silverstein, 74, won a bid for a 99-year lease of the 7WTC
site in 1980 and constructed the original building. He had just
closed a bid for a 99-year lease that included the twin towers
of the World Trade Center in July 2001, just seven weeks before
the buildings were destroyed when rammed by two hijacked
airliners.

Meanwhile, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
said the complex’s insurers have retreated from threats to use
a new agreement between Silverman and the authority that
resolved funding and control disputes as a pretext for halting
monthly payments.

Silverstein had warned last week some of the insurers —
which together owe as much as $4.6 billion — had suggested
they might stop their payments. The warning sparked fears work
on the Freedom Tower would stop as soon as September.

Silverstein and the Port Authority asked the insurers by
letter to affirm they would make their payments, and gave them
until May 22 to respond.

Steve Coleman, a spokesman for the Port Authority, which
owns the 16-acre World Trade Center site, said: “Not one letter
said ‘We’re not going to pay.”‘

Coleman noted the agency now will try to resolve the
outstanding issues: “The Port Authority is engaging in a dialog
with some of the insurance companies to clarify information in
their letters.”

(Additional reporting by Joan Gralla)


Source: reuters



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