One-on-One with Larry Silverstein - Part 3

October 02, 2018

In the third part of a four part interview series, Larry Silverstein of Silverstein Properties continues his conversation with EisnerAmper Real Estate Partner Lisa Knee.  The discussion covers topics such as sustainability, Hudson Yards, strategies for long-term success, and the completion of WTC 2.


Lisa Knee: We're sitting here today at 7 World Trade Center with one of the most iconic and successful developers of our time, Larry Silverstein. Mr. Silverstein, thank you so much for joining us this morning and giving us your great insight.

Larry Silverstein: I hope it's great but I’m not so sure about that.

LK: You've always been at the forefront of sustainability. 36 years ago, you completed the first cogeneration system in a building and today, where we sit at 7 World Trade Center, it's the first LEED-certified office building in Manhattan. Can you tell us how that is factored into your buildings and into your strategy over the years?

LS: Lisa, it's an essential part of everything we do today to be concerned about our globe and to be concerned about the environment in which we live and function. And if we don't take care of this environment, we're going to have a disaster. And so it's something that we just have to look at, understand, comprehend fully, and then embrace by way of being as sustainable as we possibly can be in everything we do, absolutely everything right? When it came time to redesign and rebuild the Seven World Trade Center, we went all the way in terms of sustainability and if there's something we could do, we did it. Of course we ended up being the first LEED-certified office building in the city of New York. In a number of instances, tenants made the decision to come with us because we were sustainable and where they were uptown, where they could have renewed, was not. And to restore and try to get those buildings into a sustainable position is excruciatingly difficult and tough, especially with tenants in possession so 10 people have to move out and then they start rebuilding the space. It's very difficult and inconvenient as well.

LK: How do you think the development of Hudson Yards is going to impact lower Manhattan’s growth?

LS: Well I think Hudson Yards will do quite well. It's a vast development in size and that will take many, many years, 20 years and maybe longer, before it's finished. But I think it will do well I think that the advent of the 7 subway line is absolutely essential to that place. I'm concerned because I think one line is totally inadequate, I think it's going to need more.

LK: Some of the projects you are working on aren't going to be completed until you're 90 and I was recently at an event where you spoke and you said, “I'm not done yet, I'm just getting started.” So where do you find the energy and the motivation?

LS: Well the energy, I can't tell you. I don't know although it’s probably due to the fact that my wife makes me a big breakfast every morning so I don't leave the house without a big bowl of oatmeal and freshly squeezed orange juice and a banana and all the good stuff. So I walk out of the house feeling just terrific, fully invigorated and ready to go. But the interesting thing is that the involvement in the activities within which we participate on a daily basis are so stimulating that I find that getting out of bed in the morning, getting into the shower, coming to work are very exciting things. And I'm just thrilled to be able to go to work, to participate with a terrific team of young, exciting, knowledgeable, competent, educated, and experienced people who work as a team. It's a wonderful group of people and I find myself absolutely thrilled to be able to be a part of that notwithstanding the fact that I’m 85. Great fun. But I will also tell you that the most immediate challenge is Tower Two. The single most immediate challenge and I want to get that done. You know, the chronology of life is a reality which I have to deal with on a constant basis. So that for me is number one and I want to see that completed in my lifetime so I can enjoy it.

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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