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NEW YORK CITY-To mark the privatization of the World Trade Center, the city’s richest real estate deal ever, according to the WTC, government officials and real estate executives spoke to a gathering in the center’s sprawling plaza to extol the benefits of the transaction. The twin towers, as well as two nine-story office buildings and approximately 425,000 sf of retail space, have been net leased for 99 years to Silverstein Properties and Westfield America for $3.2 billion.

In spring 2000, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey began seeking bids for a company to lease, manage and operate the complex, which signed its first tenant 30 years ago. A number of firms including Vornado Realty Trust, Brookfield Properties and Boston Properties took an interest. At one point, Vornado appeared to be the successful bidder but at the end of the day Silverstein and Westfield rose to the top of the bidding stack.

New York Gov. George Pataki noted this morning that the sale would allow the agency to focus its efforts on improving the city’s airports, bridges and tunnels and give attention to projects such as the Second Avenue subway.

New Jersey Acting Governor Donald DiFrancesco echoed those remarks, stating that this deal would allow the state to concentrate on projects such as extending the Newark Airport Monorail to the Northeast Corridor rail line and purchasing new PATH cars.

For the next 90 days, approximately 50 Port Authority employees will advise Silverstein on how to operate its new holding. After that, some members of the transition team will be chosen to stay with the new owner and the others will return to the PA.

JP/Morgan Chase, Cushman & Wakefield and Milstein Realty Advisors acted as advisors to the Port Authority, which will retain oversight of the complex’s building, fire, environmental and health codes and the integrity of its physical plant.

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