One-on-One with Larry Silverstein - Part 1

October 02, 2018

The iconic Larry Silverstein, Chairman of Silverstein Properties, chats with EisnerAmper Real Estate Services Group Partner Lisa Knee about the status of the World Trade Center complex and what the future holds for this important development project. Learn more about the planning behind the buildings, the process of creating a 24/7 community that balances many diverse interests, and the unique vision brought to the project by the architects and planners.


Lisa Knee: Mr. Silverstein, thank you for giving us the time this morning to walk and give us a tour of your complex. Where are we now and where do we stand with the complex?

Larry Silverstein: Tower One is a finished building, the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere and occupied. Tower Four you'll see. To the south of Tower One, that's a finished building. Then Tower Three, which is just to the north of Tower Four, is under construction and then Tower Two we had a tenant for until two weeks ago.

LK: Yes, we are going to talk about that a little later.

LS: The Murdoch interest cancel that one and decided not to go ahead with the deal. We'll find a substitute for the Murdoch interest for that building and that building will get built. When it does, that will be just to the north of Tower Three and Four , but it will be taller than Three and Four respectively . Actually, it will be the second tallest building down here again Tower One being the tallest. All of that's happening therefore I'd say if this job is about 75 percent finished with rebuilding the Trade Center.

LK: 75 percent completion?

LS: About that yeah. We'll finish in 2020-2021 in that period so about 20 years should get us to a completion. As you can see, we’re on the tenth floor of Seven World Trade Centre and believe it or not, this is exactly where all these buildings were designed. Back in ’01 while we were trying to decide what we're going to do here and how, we finally came up with a plan and that plan began to take shape. By 2003, we had architects working in here. It was a beehive of activity. It was also a beehive of activity until two weeks ago all in respect to Tower Two, because everything had to be redesigned right here. It'll come up again, but the details were the activity was frenetic. Now with respect to Tower Two, this is the Biarchi design, the successor to the Norman Foster design. You can see the stepped building which is typical of his work; very different and very, very contemporary. A young architect at 41 years of age, but brilliant in his concepts and his design work. It's quite exciting. The building is clearly contemporary and reflects the language of tomorrow which is really quite special. When you're 85 years of age you look at this you say, “This is pretty good.” It's really unique and working with him has been an absolute pleasure.

This is Richard Rogers who is responsible for world-class architecture around the globe and he designed Tower Three for us. Tower Three is totally different from Tower Two. Its lines are much more conceptual, much more predictable. His building reflects structural members as being part of a facade of the structure. So it's very different but typical of Richard Roger designs, very masculine, very formidable and significant. The building is pretty formidable at about 2.6 million feet of space and its 80 stories in height so it's a big building. So that's Mr. Rogers and then of course we come to Mr. Mackie Fumihiko Bakke, a Japanese architect who was known for beautiful buildings in his right but in his language and his language is minimalist. It’s really quite lovely and I think quite spectacular. If you look carefully at the designs of Tower Four, you'll see the building is extremely simple. Devoid of flamboyance of any kind and very minimalist in its approach. But when you see the building itself and you go to it, you realize the beauty that's inherent in that design. It's spectacular, but you have to look closely for the details. When you look at it, you really look at it closely and understand what you're looking at you come to an appreciation of that detail work and it’s spectacular, I think.

Of course here you have the Kalatrauma designed path terminal which is a unique structure. It’s one of the really beautiful buildings probably one among the most beautiful buildings in America. As a terminal that's a transportation terminal, spectacular. It should be enormously costly but exquisitely done, exquisitely designed. The materials a beautiful white marble so it'll be a spectacular edifice with several hundred thousand square feet of retail in the base of the building. And everything is connected below grade to the past terminal so you’ll be able to walk below grade in style with white marble surrounding you as you go from building to building on location to location. You'll be able to go all the way from the east side of Manhattan underground to the path terminal and to all the buildings here at the Trade Center. You'll be able to go all the way through underground to Brookfield Center and the shops that are there and in addition to the half a million square feet of Westfield retail shops at the base of all these buildings. So let's say at the end of the day, it would be a 24/7 community.

LK: You remain to have a vision and clarity and the foresight to be able to create and get the project done and be able to still go ahead and create something beautiful and show the rest of the world we're going to have that balance between the appreciation of the historic site but still tell the rest of the world and the rest of the country, “We’re New York and we're rebuilding.” How did you do that?

LS: I'm not quite sure myself. But in fairness it became obvious to me very early on after 9/11. I said to myself we can't leave it like this the most important thing for us to do is get back and rebuild it as quickly as we possibly can. So we did. It went out of my mind but our architects tell me that two weeks after 9/11 I called them and I said, “Come on, let's get busy. We have to start working on a new building for Seven World Trade Center.” There were many other voices, so remember Mayor Giuliani? God bless him. At that time said the site should forever stay green. So after a while I finally said that, took up the courage and I said to them one day I said, has New York as he has to looks good for New York right? So it became a fascination but also a realization on my part that through that all, I just had to keep moving the ball down the court to get this done and we did.

About Kenneth Weissenberg

Kenneth Weissenberg CPA, Tax Partner in Real Estate Services, is experienced in tax saving strategies and negotiating sales and acquisitions. He represents owners of some of the most well-known real estate properties in New York City.

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