Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Rebuilding of Ground Zero, Part 103

Is NYU going to come to the rescue to help get the site of the former Deutsche Bank building developed? It seems that the university may do just that. The NYU master plan is looking to develop a skyscraper for housing, and the former Deutsche Bank building site would fit their needs perfectly. It would be far less controversial than the university's planned expansion in Greenwich Village around its existing campus and is far more likely to bring life and vitality to the Financial District and Lower Manhattan as a 24-7 destination than other options.

The demolition of the Deutsche Bank building is scheduled to be completed by the end of the year (better late than never).

Meanwhile, after a FoxNews story claimed that one of the developers seeking to operate 1WTC (Freedom Tower, the Related Companies, has ties to various Middle East groups, Steve Cuozzo (of the Post) writes about his conversation with Related Cos. boss Stephen Ross:
"I'm furious. They're trying to get the victims' families rather than the Port Authority to make the decision," fumed normally even-tempered Ross, who wouldn't say whom he meant by "they're."

"The partners they're talking about don't have an equity interest in our company," Ross said. "We have only two equity partners -- Goldman Sachs and Michael Dell's MSD Capital."

Related's Mideast partners, he said, "are just debtholders. They have a subordinated debt position with no rights.

"They have no seats on our board. There are no covenants that give them a say in anything."

The uproar erupted when Fox News Channel's Peter Johnson Jr. said on-air yesterday morning that Related is "substantially bankrolled by the most powerful Arab corporate interests in the world," and questioned whether it would be an appropriate partner at the site where nearly 3,000 were killed by terrorists on 9/11.

"For anyone who suffered loss, the news may be dizzying," Johnson said.

In fact, Related announced its debt agreements with Mideast funds Mubadala Development, Olayan Group and Kuwait Investment Authority in 2007, when the story was widely reported.

But Ross yesterday seethed over what he clearly regarded as an attempt to manipulate the PA into rejecting Related's bid at Ground Zero.
The PA wouldn't have been in this position at all if they simply got out of the way and let Larry Silverstein build the towers years ago, but chose instead to drag their feet, watched as the credit and real estate markets collapsed, and resulted in it becoming even more difficult in getting the site built out as per the master plan.

But since we're in this position, Related is definitely right to get pissed about this attempt to sway public opinion against the company in the right to operate 1WTC on little more than innuendo and a lack of facts.

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