View Full Version : Text of Silverstein's infamous letter

February 7th, 2003, 12:06 AM

January 31, 2003

Hon. John Whitehead
Lower Manhattan Development Corporation
One Liberty Plaza
New York, New York 10006

Dear Chairman Whitehead:

As the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation proceeds with the next step in fulfilling its role in the planning for the World Trade Center site, I thought that it would be helpful to share the views of the Silverstein lessees on where the planning process should go from here and our thoughts on the plans submitted to LMDC by its selected architect teams.

I want to emphasize at the outset that we have always worked, and will continue to work, in a constructive and cooperative fashion with the Port Authority, the LMDC, the City and other interested parties to develop a plan that will enhance the economic vitality of the nation's third largest business district, improve the quality of life in, lower Manhattan and memorialize the tragic events of September 11. We are fully cognizant of the intense public interest in, and symbolism of, the World Trade Center site. We are also fully cognizant of the lessons to be learned from September II, lessens that we have incorporated in the new 7 World Trade Center, There is a critical need to assure that new high rise buildings are safer their occupants, arid to assure that emergency evacuations can be accomplished in a safe and secure manner. Our architectural, engineering and. security advisors all counsel us that in order to protect building occupants and provide them with fast evacuation times, it is not practical to build super-tall office buildings in the post-9/11 world; evacuation times increase disproportionately as building height increases. Moreover, fighting a fire in a super-tall building is more complicated because of the increased time it takes to reach higher floors.

We have sought to work in a cooperative spirit and have resolved to see the site rebuilt; as a City and a nation, we cannot permit terrorists to destroy this City's economy and way of life. Before September 11, the 10 million square feet of office pace and 450,000 square feet of retail space located at the World Trade Center were an integral part of the fabric of lower Manhattan. The office space was 97% occupied, and the retail space was among the most valuable in the nation. Before 9/lI, it was widely recognized by farsighted political and civic leaders that New York needed more, not less, office development. A report published in June 2001 by the Group of 35 Task Force concluded that New York would need 60 million square feet of new office space by 2020 to accommodate the anticipated addition of up to 300,000 new jobs. The loss of a total of 16 million square feet of office space as a result of the September 11 attacks only heightens the need for new office space to accommodate job growth. Indeed, the LMDC's own study concluded that we should be planning for the construction of 18 million square feet of new office buildings in lower Manhattan to accommodate job growth.

Unless one is prepared to concede that New York's heyday has passed -- something that we cannot do -- it is imperative for the economic health of the City and the region that the office space destroyed on September 11 be replaced. We believe that this rebuilding can be accomplished in a manner that establishes new and higher building safety standards, that is consistent with the best principles of urban planning and that accommodates the imperatives that the site include a significant and dignified memorial, improved public transportation facilities and new public amenities. We have also always made clear through our words and, more importantly, our deeds that we will be flexible in accommodating the needs the City, State and region.

Against this backdrop, let me share our thoughts on the conceptual plans that have been submitted. From our perspective the following criteria should be adhered to in order to assure that we rebuild in a manner that creates a safe environment and that meets the demands of tenants:

Re-establish urban streets through the site, especially Greenwich Street and at least one east-west street (Fulton Street).
Create a major and visible transportation facility, with prominence and dignity, sited to work with subsequent development.
Assure that the buildings are designed and constructed to protect their occupants and assure safe, fast and efficient egress. This requirement in all probability will limit the occupied portion of any building to no more than 65 to 70 stories (900 to 1000 feet) in total height.
Respect the lessees' obligation to rebuild the 10 million square feet of office space and a total of 600,000 square feet of retail space.
Require all buildings to meet street grade, with active cultural and retail frontages.
Provide for buildings of various sizes, but no larger than 2.5 million square feet, that tenants will feet safe in occupying. This means that buildings must:
[list:f3b07cf9d9] incorporate workable vertical circulation using conventional elevator systems, enhanced as required for life safety considerations;
incorporate building entrances that are large enough for security screening;
provide reasonably regular, repetitive floors with floor plates averaging 40,000 square feet (with a 35,000 square foot minimum and a 45,000 square foot maximum);
allow office floor-to-floor heights of approximately 13'6";
incorporate typical office lease spans of 45 feet, but no less than, and infrequently, 30 feet; and
use practical and proven structural system and enhance those systems with the best technology and practices available to assure occupant safety.
Allow for market-responsive phasing, with increments of approximately 2 million square feet every year over a period of five cars but provide flexibility to permit the plan to allow for longer implementation if market demands change.
Meet heightened environmental and sustainable design standards.[/list:u:f3b07cf9d9]

As you know, many of the criteria outlined above were established in the guidelines put forth by the LMDC. And to be sure, the talented design tam is selected by LMDC have cogently demonstrated the ability of architecture to elevate our spirits, and evoke the vision for the future that will assure that lower Manhattan thrives. However, none of the plans as currently configured presents a viable and safe vision for the redevelopment of the World Trade Center site in a manner that satisfies all of the criteria developed by LMDC or all of the criteria that are necessary to assure that the rebuilt World Trade Center is not only architecturally distinguished but secure for tenants and responsive to their needs.

As Alex Garvin noted in a Times interview, all of the schemes have to be "adjusted to reality." The question then is, where do we go from here? In considering this question *we must all be cognizant of the market, financial and legal constraints that face us. The Port Authority estimated that our consortium paid $3.2 billion in consideration for our leaseholds, consisting of $600 million to the Port Authority at the closing and a commitment to pay many billions more in rent over the term of the 99-year leases. The leases obligate us to continue to pay that rent (currently $120 million per year) notwithstanding the destruction of the complex and give us the corresponding obligation and right to rebuild what was lost. The leases expressly contemplate that in the event the complex were destroyed and it is not feasible, prudent or commercially reasonable to rebuild in accordance with the plans and specifications as they existed, we have the right to build substitute buildings. The leases further provide, consistent with the obligation of good faith implicit in every contract, that while the Port Authority would have to consent to an alternate rebuilding plan, the Port Authority cannot unreasonably withhold its consent. Moreover, our Reciprocal Easement and Operating Agreement pith the Port Authority provides that our group has the right to select the architect responsible for preparing rebuilding plans.

We have faithfully continued since 9/11 to make rental payments on the premise that our contract rights will be honored; and having done so, we have every reason to expect that the Port Authority will respect its obligations and that other governmental bodies will not seek to interfere with or undercut our rights or constrain us in our effort to build safe and desirable buildings. Consistent with our lease obligations, we are committed to dedicating the proceeds of our insurance recovery -- a recovery that will total $6.7 billion, plus prejudgment interest -- to *rebuilding and satisfying all our other contractual obligations, This insurance recovery represents the only private source of funds for redevelopment. The only way to assure that this entire recovery is obtained is to rebuild the full amount of destroyed space; building less would result only in a major windfall to the insurers. By working together, we can sure that the region will obtain the benefits that the investment of these billions will bring to lower Manhattan, that redevelopment of the site will speed ahead, that tens of thousands of jobs will be brought back to lower Manhattan, and that the economy of the City and the region will be enhanced.

We must also keep in mind that it is important to move forward with deliberate speed. Once a land use plan is finalized, it will take the balance of year 2003 to develop architectural and engineering plans for the transportation hub and other subgrade structures. As a result, construction of the new transportation hub and subgrade cannot begin in earnest until the beginning of 2004. Construction itself will take 2 1/2 to 3 years, with completion in late 2006 or 2007. Until this is completed and the site is brought back to grade, construction of a memorial cannot begin. On this schedule, the first office towers would open is the second half of 2008 or 2009, with additional buildings opening each year thereafter. The entire project could be substantially completed in 2012, at a time when there will be unmet demand for new office space in lower Manhattan.

We fully recognize that the Port Authority is a governmental entity that is subjected to conflicting pressures -- pressures different from those imposed upon a private landlord. *We also recognize that LMDC has a unique role in the planning for lower Manhattan. And we certainly do not maintain that our group has the unfettered right to build whatever we desire without input and reasonable concurrence from the Port Authority and collaboration with LMDC. But we must find a way to make sure that all responsible parties come to agreement on a plan that will be architecturally spectacular, will meet the demands of the tenants that we must bring back to lower Manhattan and, most importantly, will assure the safety of the occupants of the buildings and assure them a fast, safe and efficient egress in the event of an emergency.

As you know, we have engaged Skidmore, Owings & Merrill to work with us on a site plan. We understand that LMDC shortly will select one or more architects to work, with in developing a plan over the coming weeks; and the Port Authority, of course, has its own extraordinarily qualified architects and planners We have been and remain fully amenable to having SOM work with any architects selected by the Port Authority and LMDC over the coming weeks.

With this in mind, please let me suggest that whichever architects that LMDC selects to work on the development of a site plan be tasked with coordinating their efforts with SOM as well as, of course, with architects representing the Port Authority. Let me also suggest that we all recognize now that any plan that results from our joint efforts over the next several weeks will have to be adapted as time goes on to accommodate the changing needs of our City.

We all have a responsibility to make lower Manhattan a better place to work, live and visit, I look forward to hearing from you and your colleagues to plan how we can move forward together to fulfill this responsibility.


Larry Silverstein

cc: Governor George Pataki
Governor James McGreevey
Mayor Michael Bloomberg
Hon. Lou Tomson
Hon. Jack Sinagra
Hon. Charles Kushner
Hon. Joseph Seymour
Mr. Roland Betts


February 7th, 2003, 12:07 AM
That was from http://reconstructionreport.org/, a great site.

February 7th, 2003, 08:44 AM
February 7, 2003
Leaseholder's Rights Where the Towers Stood

To the Editor:

Re "Trade Center Leaseholder Says Officials Are Ignoring His Right to Rebuild as He Wants" (news article, Feb. 1) and "Two Finalists Are Selected for the Void at Ground Zero" (news article, Feb. 5):

In the Feb. 5 news article, you write, "In a letter Friday to rebuilding officials," Larry A. Silverstein "asserted that the lease gave his group the right to rebuild the site as the group sees fit."

But that is not our position.

My letter expressly said, "We certainly do not maintain that our group has the unfettered right to build whatever we desire." Rather, it called for close coordination of our architects and those from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation in arriving at a final site plan that would meet the needs of New York.

Our group has paid and continues to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in lease payments. We have both rights and an obvious strong interest in what is to be rebuilt. But we have never asserted that we have a unilateral right to control this process.
New York, Feb. 6, 2003

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

February 7th, 2003, 12:39 PM
"We have been and remain fully amenable to having SOM work with any architects selected by the Port Authority and LMDC over the coming weeks. "

"[safety requirements] will limit the occupied portion of any building to no more than 65 to 70 stories (900 to 1000 feet) in total height. "

"the first office towers would open in the second half of 2008 or 2009..."

These were the most interesting statements for me.

February 7th, 2003, 12:51 PM
"[safety requirements] will limit the occupied portion of any building to no more than 65 to 70 stories (900 to 1000 feet) in total height. "
its also interesting that none of SOMs towers were over 1000 feet tall, maybe he is showing loyalty to SOM since he announced already they are hired for the project

TLOZ Link5
February 7th, 2003, 07:11 PM
Nah, I think the French fries were each about 1050 feet.