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NEW YORK CITY-Retail property owner, the Westfield Group, has entered into a letter of intent with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to reacquire an interest in the retail premises at the World Trade Center site. Under the terms of the transaction, Westfield and the Port Authority will form a JV to own the retail facilities, with Westfield responsible for management and leasing.

The Port Authority will provide approximately $825 million and Westfield will provide approximately $625 million toward the $1.5-billion retail project. The transaction is subject to completion of legal documentation, due diligence and required approvals. Plans for the retail premises currently include approximately 488,000 sf of gross leasable area spread across multiple levels, with the primary retail space located in the new transit terminal designed by Santiago Calatrava and at street level.

“We are excited to be back,” notes Westfield Group managing director Peter Lowy in a prepared statement. “We always wanted to be a part of the revitalization of this historic site once the plans were finalized. With the Port Authority, we look forward to creating a world-class, iconic shopping destination for Lower Manhattan.”

Prior to Sept. 11, Westfield had net leased the World Trade Center retail components, which consisted of 427,000 sf of space. Westfield originally acquired an interest in the retail facilities at the World Trade Center in July 2001. In December 2003, Westfield sold its interest in the World Trade Center retail premises to the Port Authority to help simplify the rebuilding process by avoiding the conflict between its commercial/lease rights and the interests of the public.

The World Trade Center retail is just one of several projects on the site that are either in construction or progressing through the planning stages. There are currently more than 600 construction workers and 100 pieces of heavy equipment on the site, and nearly every corner of the 16 acres is now under construction.

Major construction on 1 World Trade Center, the Freedom Tower began during the middle of 2006, after a milestone master redevelopment agreement that outlined new roles and responsibilities for the rebuilding. The tower’s footings and foundations are nearly complete, and steel will begin to rise above street level during the first part of 2008.

Construction of the foundations for the World Trade Center Transportation Hub and Memorial also are under way. Major steel beams for both projects are scheduled to be erected during the upcoming year.

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