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NEW YORK CITY-The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the World Trade Center development site, is negotiating with Silverstein Properties Inc. on possible changes to the timetable on the three towers the developer plans to build there, according to published reports.

According to the New York Times, the Port Authority, citing a depressed office market Downtown, wants to delay construction of Towers 2 and 3 for as much as 20 years while providing financing only for the 64-story Tower 4 at 150 Greenwich St. For its part, SPI maintains that the office market will recover and wants to proceed now with at least two of the towers, obtaining funds from the authority on both. Published reports say the authority’s proposal, which was delivered two weeks ago, would also entail the agency taking an equity stake in Tower 4, where it would be headquartered.

An impasse on a timetable at Ground Zero could delay progress on infrastructure work and jeopardize completion of the World Trade Center Memorial by the 10th anniversary of 9/11, since many of the development site’s utilities and other systems are to be housed on land controlled by SPI. A spokesman for the Port Authority tells GlobeSt.com, “We have to deal with the economic reality today, and the Port Authority’s obligation is to rebuild the site in the public interest based on that reality. That starts with keeping the Memorial and the other public infrastructure on the timeline and budget we’ve committed to, and it extends to building the right amount of office space to meet what is now a very different market Downtown.”

A source familiar with the discussions says that developer Larry Silverstein, CEO of SPI, is frustrated by the turn of events. The authority, says the source, “hasn’t been able to comply with a single deadline during the entire eight-year rebuilding effort. Now they’re desperate for a new deal, to avoid the financial consequences of their delays and more public embarrassment.”

Silverstein still is “determined to get the rebuilding done as quickly as possible, and has proposed to join forces with the Port Authority and make them his partners,” the source says. “But the authority has totally lost confidence in the city’s ability to bounce back economically, and wants to push the completion of the entire WTC rebuilding off like 15 or 20 years. No way Larry’s going to agree to that.”

The Port Authority’s board has scheduled a meeting for Thursday morning to discuss the WTC project.

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