Workers at Ground Zero Say 'Build Now'

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Several hundred construction workers spent their lunch hour at a rally near Ground Zero to pressure the Port Authority and developer Larry Silverstein to resolve a standoff over the financing of three proposed office towers at the site.

The Port Authority and Silverstein face a Friday deadline for a new rebuilding timetable. While construction is moving forward on the memorial, a transit hub, and One World Trade Center, the rest of the rebuilding effort has stalled while Silverstein seeks financing guarantees from the Port Authority.

It was quite a show. There were speakers blaring rock music. There were no less than six elected officials -- congressmen, city councilmen, public advocate -- and they all had a simple message: build it now.

A number of workers who were down here were wearing buttons that said 2037 with a red line through it. That was an estimate according to the Port Authority as to how long it would take to build the three towers if left to office market demand. The Port Authority is willing to guarantee financing for the first building to get it going, and for the second so long as Silverstein puts up enough of his own money.

The rallying workers weren't officially taking sides, but many leaned toward Silverstein and grumbled that the Port Authority should pay what he wants to get the project moving.

Port Authority director Chris Ward says his agency's made an offer -- but Silverstein's demands amount to a public bailout.

Congressman Anthony Weiner suggested the two sides get together at Farrells', the bar in Windsor Terrace, in the back room over a beer and work it all out.

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