January 30, 2008 / 4:56 AM / 10 years ago

NY luxury tower at ground zero defies soft market

<p>World Trade Center developer Larry Silverstein pauses to look out a window down to "Ground Zero" from the 52nd floor of the new 7 World Trade Center tower in New York May 8, 2006 during a tour and interview with Reuters. REUTERS/Mike Segar</p>

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The developer rebuilding New York’s World Trade Center unveiled plans on Tuesday for an 80-story hotel a block away, saying he was unbowed by fears of a recession or a softening of New York’s real estate market.

The new 912-foot (278-metre) tower, due to begin construction in June and be completed in 2011, will combine a luxury hotel with apartments. The project was announced as the pace of huge real estate deals has slowed, credit has tightened and Wall Street is still struggling in the swamp of subprime mortgages.

Developer Larry Silverstein referred to “negative trends” in financial markets while announcing the project and answered his own rhetorical questions on whether the Financial District was vulnerable to downturns in the financial markets that have caused vacancies to spike in the past.

“The answer, in a word, is ‘no.’ In two words, ‘Hell no’,” said the man who took out a 99-year lease on the World Trade Center six weeks before it was destroyed on September 11, 2001.

Silverstein said his confidence reflected the commitment of elected officials to the World Trade Center’s rebuilding, the decision of 184 non-financial companies to relocate downtown, and easy access to the area through public transportation.

Moreover, downtown Manhattan needs more hotel rooms, he said, in part to accommodate visitors to the four very tall buildings he is constructing at the former World Trade Center site, including the Freedom Tower, which at 1,776 feet (541 meters) will be the tallest building in the United States.

Downtown Manhattan “will be ... a model for cities all over the world. Unprecedented, unimaginable, unbeatable,” he said.

The new skyscraper will eclipse one of its nearest and most admired neighbors, the historic Woolworth Building, a neo-Gothic classic that stands at 792 feet.

Robert A.M. Stern Architects will design the hotel at 99 Church Street. Silverstein partnered with Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts to run the hotel on the first 22 floors. There will be 143 condominium apartments on the rest of the floors.

The new tower will have 175 hotel rooms, including a 3,700 square foot (344 square meter) suite. The biggest apartments will be 6,500 square feet -- enormous by New York City standards.

Silverstein did not say how much it would cost.

Editing by Daniel Trotta and Cynthia Osterman

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
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