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May 28, 2013 3:35 pm
Larry Silverstein, the octogenarian New York developer, is growing impatient. Mr Silverstein, who bought the Twin Towers weeks before the 2001 attacks, will be stepping down from the helm of Silverstein Properties at the end of this year after 60 years in the property business – and he wants to see a quick finish to his World Trade Center project.
“The thing that I’m focusing on the most, is getting my buildings built because I want to be around to enjoy them and I want to see the fruition of all of our labours,” he told the Financial Times. “We’ve been at this now for a long time so I want to see it come to an end.”
In the days after the World Trade Center was demolished, the raspy-voiced Brooklynite, known for his relentless energy, drive and optimism, vowed to rebuild the millions of square feet of office space that had been destroyed. But some onlookers were not so sure. Could a profit-driven private developer be trusted to lead a project of great public importance that would come to symbolise the city’s resilience? Mr Silverstein persevered.
He had intended that the complex to be completed within 10 years, but bitter wrangling with some of the world’s largest insurance companies, city authorities, headstrong architects and the public delayed construction and pushed up costs. Litigation with airlines over claims of negligence continue.
Even so, Mr Silverstein has come a long way from his first acquisition of a loft building in New York’s Garment District. A testament to the promise he made, many now believe he is the biggest driver of lower Manhattan’s transformation.
Mr Silverstein, who will remain as chairman as he hands the company over to his co-chief executive Marty Burger, shows no sign of relenting, however. “I’m not going to go anywhere. I’ll still be working but just doing the things I really enjoy doing. And so in that sense really nothing significant is going to change . . . I’m only 82.”
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