Jeffrey Moerdler, Real Estate Partner at Mintz Levin, Tackles Security Issues

November 01, 2017

Former Commissioner of the Port Authority of NY and NJ, Jeffrey Moerdler focuses on the costly but necessary security issues surrounding both developing and operating properties. He examines the challenges of being realistic and proactive with security while not being overbearing to tenants. You’ll also hear why the World Trade Center holds a special place in Jeffrey’s heart. 


I spent almost six years as  commissioner of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey involved in the redevelopment of the World Trade Center site and a lot of other major infrastructure projects – airports, ports, bridges and tunnels.

It’s critical to the ability of us to live our lives in New York to have first-class infrastructure, great airports, great bridges, great tunnels and great office complexes.

Being involved in the redevelopment of the World Trade Center site has a special place in my heart because I both was involved in the acquisition of the World Trade Center as co-counsel for Larry Silverstein and scheduled to be at the World Trade Center for a meeting on the morning of September 11 that was cancelled two weeks before. Therefore, I wanted to be involved in the redevelopment and had a great opportunity to do that being a member of the board of the Port Authority and leading a lot of large real estate projects  over the last few years.

Security issues are very important in both the development of real estate and the operation of real estate. Many owners are concerned about how to deal with it. On the one hand, you need to be proactive and keep security issues in mind when you develop a project and in how you operate it. On the other hand, you don’t want it to be too ostentatious and scare people away because we all have to live our lives and be comfortable but yet have a strong sense of security in our atmosphere and in reality, as opposed to just a false sense of security.

A lot of the infrastructure in a city like New York is 50 to a 100 years old. It requires tremendous modernization. That’s very expensive and a lot of that has been deferred over the years, particularly during leaner financial times. We now need to put a lot of money into new infrastructure, and a lot is being done. Now, all of a sudden, over the last 10 years you have a huge additional expense in all these infrastructure projects of a layer of additional security – be it building a bridge and securing the bridge structures so that they are not subject to being at risk of bomb damage or building the One World Trade Center Tower and the additional layers of security required there, or the operation of an airport and the additional layers of security required there. Unfortunately, it’s a huge layer of additional expense and its costs, both to our city and to the real estate industry, are necessary and a fact of life and have to be dealt with proactively.

Some of the key takeaways from today’s dialogue are that security is an important issue that we all have to live within our day-to-day lives and has to be a part of every real estate project, but it also has to be done in a way that does not interfere with people operating their lives on a day-to-day basis and that’s a tough challenge – balancing – having security but not interfering with the operations of the facilities.

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