PA Deal May Open Trade Center Door to MerrillMay 22, 2008
The Port Authority board met privately this morning to consider a deal that would allow Larry A. Silverstein, the developer of three of the future World Trade Center towers, to negotiate with Merrill Lynch as the tenant of the central building at the site. As it stands, under his agreement with the authority, Mr. Silverstein must complete the central building, known as Tower 3, by Dec. 31, 2011.
That deadline is not likely to give him the flexibility he needs to revise the building plans to suit Merrill’s tenancy.
While Mr. Silverstein has made no secret of his hope to lure Merrill across West Street from the World Financial Center at Battery Park City, the company’s interest had been harder to gauge. An article this morning in The Wall Street Journal said that the company was in “renewed talks” to move its headquarters to the World Trade Center.
To accommodate Mr. Silverstein’s talks with Merrill, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the trade center site, would extend the Tower 3 development deadline to June 2012 and the adjacent Tower 4 deadline to the spring of 2012. (The authority’s future headquarters will be in Tower 4.)
A measure of the seriousness of the negotiations was that both the authority chairman, Anthony R. Coscia, and its new executive director, Christopher O. Ward, attended the morning meeting of the World Trade Center redevelopment subcommittee, as did almost every other member of the board of commissioners. The meeting was closed to the public and the press as soon as the Silverstein lease came up on the agenda.
The board is also close to approving $5 million for the planning of a centralized command and communications center, and $4.2 million for the design of 600,000 square feet of the authority’s headquarters space under a contract with Studios Architecture. It is also likely to approve a $90.6 million plumbing contract and a $72.4 million heating, ventilating and air-conditioning contract for 1 World Trade Center, also known as the Freedom Tower, where steel columns are now reaching above street level.
Update: At the meeting, the board either approved or signed off on all the matters mentioned in the post. The authority said in a statement later in the afternoon that “in order to accommodate Merrill Lynch, Tower 3 would need to be redesigned and the foundation plans for Towers 3 and 4 would have to be amended as well.” Merrill would occupy all of Tower 3.