World Trade Center Developer Wants Loan Guarantees To Resume Project

The landlords at 1 World Trade Center dropped the rent because the building is more than 40 percent vacant. That raises questions about 3 World Trade Center, which is still under construction.

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The country's tallest skyscraper is having trouble finding tenants. The landlords at one World Trade Center in New York City, which is slated to open later this year say they're dropping the rent because of high vacancy rates. And that's adding to a heated debate over another skyscraper under development at the World Trade Center site. Here's NPR's Joel Rose.

JOEL ROSE, BYLINE: The skyscraper is known as Three World Trade Center. It's one of several smaller office towers that are planned for the site in lower Manhattan. But construction of Three World Trade Center is stalled. The developer Larry Silverstein says he needs 1.2 billion dollars in loan guarantees from the site's owner, the port authority of New York and New Jersey, in order to restart construction. But not everyone thinks that's a good idea. Kevin Liper (ph) is a commissioner at the port authority.

KEVIN LIPPER: It's a diversion of funds not in keeping with our original mission nor in keeping with the best interests of the public. So I am dead against it.

ROSE: Liper says it makes no sense to subsidize an additional two and a half million square feet of office space at a time when one World Trade Center is nearly half vacant. But supporters of the loan for Three World Trade Center say the neighborhood still hasn't replaced all the office space that was lost on September 11. Jessica Lappin is the president of the Alliance for Downtown New York.

JESSICA LAPPIN: We need to finish building the World Trade Center site. We cannot leave this stump of a building. It's a promise that needs to be fulfilled.

ROSE: After months of debate, the port authority commissioners could vote on the proposed guarantee at their meeting today. Joel Rose, NPR News, New York.

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