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The Remarks Of Speaker Sheldon Silver

Larry Silverstein Press Conference - Updating Media
On World Trade Center Progress

7 World Trade Center, 10th Floor, 250 Greenwich St, Manhattan
Thursday, September 6, 2007 [11 A.M.]

Thank you, Janno (Lieber), for that warm and generous introduction.

Larry Silverstein. Avi Schick. Tony Shorris. Joe Daniels. Janno Lieber. Members of the Media.

When the rebuilding of Lower Manhattan is complete and the history is written, the name "Larry Silverstein" will be prominent among those whose leadership and perseverance kept hope alive in a time of grave devastation and loss.

Larry, it has been a privilege to work with you, shoulder to shoulder, and carry out the national and moral obligation to resurrect this great American community.

A little more than six years ago, many believed that Lower Manhattan was finished as a major financial center. Predictions were that most if not all of our companies would move to Midtown or out of this city entirely.

Who, they asked, would ever want to live or work anywhere near the site of the worst terrorist attack in our nation's history? How, they asked, could we ever recover?

To me, this is personal.

My grandparents and parents worked hard to make it here. I was born and raised in Lower Manhattan. I raised my own family here. This is my home.

I am personally invested in this my Lower Manhattan community and I am driven to respond to the 9/11 attacks by establishing a community that is stronger and safer, bigger and better than ever before.

Yes, the first couple of years were pretty tough.

Larry Silverstein built this building across the street from Ground Zero without any tenants at all.

The World Trade Center rebuilding project, as we all know, was in shambles.

Elite corporate citizens, such as Goldman Sachs, were threatening to move away.

And, Lower Manhattan fell behind Washington DC and became the 4th largest business district in the country.

Two years ago, working with State and City leaders, I authored and gained enactment of a Marshall Plan for revitalizing Lower Manhattan.

The goals of my plan were simple:

Restore Lower Manhattan to its rightful place as the business and financial capital of the world;

And maintain its character as a vibrant, 24-hour community where some 35.5 percent of the people who live and work in my Assembly District, walk to work!

We aggressively pursued the corporate giants, the mid-sized firms, the small businesses and the financial houses, and convinced them to relocate here.

We set out to build more commercial space, more retail space, more research facilities, more schools, more libraries, more community centers.

We provided significant commercial incentives to companies as encouragement to move into this area.

Today, you are sitting in the first office tower to be rebuilt at Ground Zero, and as Larry pointed out, it is already three-quarters leased.

Many of the tenants in this building took advantage of those incentives and moved from midtown Manhattan, other parts of this City, and from outside of New York, to establish their headquarters here.

These companies are diverse: a not-for-profit, a publishing company, an intellectual property law firm, an international bank. All are leaders in their fields.

Incentives worked here at 7 World Trade Center and they still work. They should be continued. They are an important part of what attracts companies to the World Trade Center site.

Not only did these companies move into a magnificent building, they moved into a fantastic neighborhood.

Within a few blocks of this building, you will find:

  • The world headquarters of American Express, Merrill Lynch, Dow Jones, Verizon and Moody's;

  • A dozen new residential apartment buildings, two baseball fields, and acres of public parks;

  • Two public schools as well as Stuyvesant High School and St. John's University;

  • A movie theater with eleven screens, several hotels and some of the best restaurants in the city.

Walk along Wall Street and you will see that many of the older office buildings have been converted into residential condos. Major retailers have opened stores downtown, including Tiffany's, Duffy's, Hermes and Hickey Freeman.

Major companies have chosen the World Trade Center area as the location to build their headquarters.

Across West Street, Goldman Sachs is building a $2-billion tower which will open in 2009.

Directly to the south, JP Morgan Chase will build the headquarters of its trading operation in World Trade Center Tower 5.

Today, Downtown is the most vibrant part of this city and that is fundamental to attracting the world's most dynamic companies.

Many of the people who work for these companies live in Lower Manhattan, throughout the entire metropolitan region, and in New Jersey.

We have already begun making major improvements to our mass transit system. The Fulton Street Transit Hub is under way and the 2nd Avenue Subway is rolling along.

Downtown is also one of the greenest parts of New York. Not only was 7 World Trade certified as the first green office building in the city, but every building at this site will be certified, like 7 WTC, to the gold standard.

Let me add that across West Street, many of the new apartment buildings in Battery Park City are also LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified.

Obviously, we care a great deal about quality of life and air quality.

In fact, a year ago to the day, I was here with Larry Silverstein and Julie Menin - the chair of Community Board 1 - announcing the initiative requiring all construction vehicles at the WTC site to run on ultra-low sulfur fuel.

This is very much a mixed-use community. The plans you see here today for the new World Trade Center reflect that. Each of these architects has designed a building that will not only attract the best office tenants but will also enhance the quality of life for the residents and the workers downtown.

These buildings will contain over half a million square feet of prime retail, restaurants and night spots. Each building will be connected to the PATH station, the performing arts center, the subway and the ferries.

Each of these buildings will surround and respectfully complement the September 11th Memorial.

Along the way, we have had our stumbling blocks, including the recent Deutsche Bank catastrophe, but we have a stronger and more dedicated leadership team now - directed by Governor Eliot Spitzer, and ESDC and LMDC Chair Avi Schick - and now we're moving forward more swiftly and more efficiently than ever before.

Let me close by saying this:

Many long to see Lower Manhattan rise from the ashes of September 11th, but no one more than I.

Five generations of Silvers have lived in Lower Manhattan, from my grandparents to my grandchildren.

I'd like to think that fifty years from now, there will still be Silvers living here because together, we made Lower Manhattan a better, safer, healthier and more prosperous place to live, to work and to raise a family.

Today, I am more confident than ever that the goal of a better, brighter Lower Manhattan - one that stands in tribute to all who have given their lives in the fight against hatred and terror - is on the horizon.

We will get there together.

New York State Assembly
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