Volume 79, Number 19 | Oct 14 - 20, 2009
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933

Mike claims that his powers are limited at W.T.C.

By Josh Rogers

Mayor Mike Bloomberg told The Villager Friday that “things I am responsible for” at the World Trade Center are moving well, and added that officials have no choice but to offer a good deal to W.T.C. developer Larry Silverstein.

“Larry has everybody by the proverbials — he really does,” Bloomberg said. “He can stretch this out for many years, use all of his money and we can wind up with nothing. Nobody likes it, but that’s the truth.”

Bloomberg said the city had looked carefully at Silverstein’s lease and agreement with the Port Authority to see if there is a way to get the developer out, but “all of our lawyers say no.”

The Port Authority has missed many of the deadlines in the 2006 agreement with Silverstein, who is arguing his case in arbitration. The mayor also agrees with Silverstein’s assessment that the commercial office market will rebound soon, which is another reason he favors loan guarantees to the developer to avoid more construction delays at the W.T.C.

He said the Trade Center is “politically one of the most convoluted situations,” controlled by many, including the Port Authority, as well as the New York and New Jersey governors, who appoint the authority’s board. Since Bloomberg took office almost four months after 9/11, there have been six governors in the two states.

“Every time a new governor comes in, everything stops,” he said.

“The good news is the World Trade Center Memorial, which is the only thing I have direct control over on the site, is on budget, on time,” he added.

Bloomberg has jurisdiction over the memorial as chairperson of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, the private foundation that will own and operate it.

The Port Authority and the foundation are working to finish the memorial plaza in 2011 but part of it may have to close while work continues on the train station designed by Santiago Calatrava. He said the number of commuters and subway riders in the station do not justify the $4 billion-to-$5 billion PATH and subway station.

The day before, Bill Thompson, the Democratic nominee running against Bloomberg, told Community Media that the limited W.T.C. progress was the fault of the mayor’s “failed leadership.” He said the mayor “pops up occasionally” on the W.T.C., instead of being a constant presence in the decisions. Thompson, during an hour-long interview in Community Media’s offices, also repeated the widely held view that Bloomberg, in his first term, let former Governor George Pataki take the lead Downtown while the mayor focused on trying to get a Jets/Olympics stadium for the Hudson Yards in Midtown.

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