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NEW YORK CITY-Accord has been reached in the ongoing legal wrangling over the rebuilding of the World Trade Center site. A settlement has been in the works since late October, when all the parties involved agreed to attempt to resolve the matter. In early September, GMAC Commercial Mortgage Corp. had filed an action in New York State Court against the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, owner of the site, and the World Trade Center LLCs to compel them to comply with contractual obligations during the rebuilding process. GMACCM said it wanted to protect the interests of its certificateholders in the $563 million loan that GMACCM made to the World Trade Center LLCs. The PA will use insurance proceeds to pay off the debt.

GMACCM officials note they were “pleased” to learn of the agreements and that “work has now started the process of requesting its certifiicateholders’ consent to the prepayment of the loan.”

In an agreement previously announced in September, Westfield America Trust will sell its interest in the World Trade Center retail premises to the Port Authority for $140 million. Expected to close by the end of the year, the Sydney-based Westfield’s chief executive Peter Lowry says the sale of its interests will “help simplify the overall process and expedite the rebuilding of the World Trade Center.” Westfield held on to a right of first refusal agreeing to pay $1 million if leasing rights are offered to another retailer.

Joseph J. Seymour, executive director of the Port Authority, says the agreements “will provide us with the necessary flexibility to proceed with the rebirth of the World Trade Center site as planned and on Gov. Pataki’s aggressive timetable.”

And Larry A. Silverstein, president of World Trade Center Properties LLC, echoed similar sentiments. “I am pleased that we have reached a full agreement with the Port Authority on terms for repaying GMAC. I am absolutely committed to meeting Gov. Pataki’s timetable for a complete and spectacular rebuild of the World Trade Center. This agreement takes us a long way toward achieving that goal.”

Silverstein commended the judge who compelled the parties to settle the matter. “I want to extend my thanks to Justice Herman Cahn whose wise counsel helped the parties resolve the many complex issues included in the agreement.”

Plans are progressing on the rebuilding process. One month ahead of schedule, the temporary PATH station at the World Trade Center opened Nov. 23. The Port Authority has begun the environmental review process for the permanent WTC transportation hub and has hired the Downtown Design Partnership to design it. Preliminary drawings scheduled to be submitted to the Port Authority next spring and the $2 billion permanent hub is scheduled to begin serving passengers in 2006. The Port Authority invested $323 million to build the temporary WTC PATH Station, with an additional $106 million to restore the PATH tunnels below the Hudson River. Approximately $137 million was spent to restore and enhance the Exchange Place Station in Jersey City, which was damaged by flooding on Sept. 11.The PATH restoration is being funded by Federal Emergency Management Agency money, Port Authority funds and insurance proceeds.

And Silverstein’s suit with insurers on whether the crashes into the twin towers constituted one or two occurrences is expected to go to trial in early February.

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