Larry Silverstein Satisfies His Lust

IREIzine (Institutional Real Estate International magazine)
July 26, 2001


It's a done deal. On July 24, Silverstein Properties finalized its purchase of the lease on New York's World Trade Center from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey for $3.2 billion. The 69-year-old Silverstein, head of the privately held family company, told the "New York Post" earlier this year he lusted after the complex. Now he can have his way with it.

Silverstein, who doubled his real estate holdings when he won the 10 million-square-foot WTC, played David to his Goliath-like rivals. Vornado Realty and a joint venture between Boston Properties and Brookfield Properties both lost New York's richest real estate prize to a small fry. Before the WTC deal, Silverstein only owned about 10 million square feet of commercial space, mostly in New York. The big boys may feel a bit put out by a small, private player making off with the shiny trophy, especially Vornado Chairman Steven Roth, who also lost out on Rockefeller Center to the private Tishman Speyer Properties and the Crown family.

Now Silverstein will have to prove himself to the doubting Thomases, who have questioned his ability to finance and run such a big show. In moves that should stave off his critics for a while, Silverstein Properties hired 70 to 80 staffers of the Port Authority to temporarily handle the asset and brought on board a top-level real estate executive, Geoffrey Wharton.

The WTC is not known for its good fortune. It's been a spot for suicides, and six people died when the complex was bombed by terrorists in 1993. Can Larry Silverstein chase out the ghosts, surprise the naysayers and run a successful operation? Now that he's gotten the object of his lust, we'll see if he can build a long-term relationship with it.


� Copyright 2001

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