(Adds comment from Silverstein, background)
NEW YORK, March 25 The Port Authority of New
York and New Jersey on Thursday reached a framework agreement
with the developer of the World Trade Center, ending a 16-month
stalemate over rebuilding at the site destroyed in the Sept. 11
Port Authority Executive Director Chris Ward said the
agreement will clear the way for the developer, Larry
Silverstein, to resume the building of his planned towers at
the Ground Zero site in downtown Manhattan, subject to certain
The reconstruction effort has suffered long delays as the
Port Authority and Silverstein have fought about money,
security, designs and funding, frustrating officials, residents
and families of the almost 3,000 people killed in the attacks
that felled the twin towers.
Silverstein, under an agreement struck in 2001 and amended
in 2006, is responsible for building World Trade Center Towers
2, 3 and 4, while the Port Authority is responsible for
developing One World Trade Center and Tower 5, along with the
WTC Transportation hub, the 9/11 Memorial, underground parking
and retail outlets.
Building of One World Trade Center is under way, but
Silverstein's projects have been held up in funding disputes.
Thursday's agreement creates a framework under which the
reconstruction effort will be paid for using private funds,
Liberty Bonds and money from New York state and city.
The Liberty Bond program was set up to create tax-free
financing for reconstruction and to support the downtown
Manhattan economy after the attacks.
The deal will allow for the east side of the site to be
restored to street level, for Tower 4 to be completed by 2013
and for the phase-in of Towers 2 and 3 over time, the agency
said in a statement.
Silverstein can immediately resume building the Tower 3
transit and retail podium, as long as he raises $300 million of
private equity, preleases 400,000 square feet and obtains
private financing for remaining costs.
Silverstein will receive a capped public backstop of $390
million from the agency, New York state and city to help him
raise financing, as well as $210 million of equity from the
state and city.
Silverstein, who had leased the World Trade Center complex
just two months before the attack, welcomed the agreement and
said it will accelerate the rebuilding and help revive the
The rebuilding effort has also been hurt by the real estate
slump and recession, which hurt demand for office space and
made banks reluctant to make risky loans.
Silverstein had lobbied hard for the Port Authority to
guarantee his loans, but the agency was reluctant to use funds
needed for public transportation links to a private party.
A number of New York officials have intervened to end the
impasse, including New York Governor David Paterson, New York
City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver
and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
(Reporting by Ciara Linnane; Editing by Leslie Adler)