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Silverstein, Larry


SILVERSTEIN, LARRY (1931– ), U.S. builder. Silverstein, who was born in New York, graduated from New York University. His father, Harry, a Russian immigrant, was a classical pianist who taught himself to be a broker of loft spaces in the Garment District. Larry went to work for his father to put himself through school and returned full-time after graduation. He built his career by becoming an expert in buying and flipping properties in Manhattan. He bought 11 West 42nd Street, near Bryant Park before its renaissance. He built on the far West Side, at 42nd west of 11th Avenue, and in lower Manhattan at 120 Broadway. The latter property was a 1.8-million square-foot giant occupying a full square block, steps from Wall Street. By the 1980s, Silverstein controlled more than 10 million square feet of Manhattan residential and commercial space. He set his sights on the last undeveloped parcel of the World Trade Center, at the northern tip of the site, and in 1980 he won the bid to build the original 7 World Trade. He constructed the 47-story tower and then set his sights on the Twin Towers of the Center. In 2001, backed by a number of investors, Silverstein signed a 99-year lease for the World Trade Center complex just seven weeks before the Twin Towers were destroyed. Silverstein was awarded an insurance payment of more than $3.5 billion dollars to settle his policy. In addition, the Silverstein group sued the insurers liable for the World Trade Center for another $3.5 billion, claiming that the two planes constituted two separate terrorist attacks. He won. Although Silverstein originally had only $14 million of his own money in equity in the place (a consortium of partners put up more than $100 million), the lease gave him the right to rebuild all 10 million lost square feet of office space, regardless of the wishes of victims' families, neighbors, or the governors of New York and New Jersey, whose Port Authority owns the land. It also gave Silverstein the authority to force through much of his own architect's design for the Freedom Tower, the 1,776-foot building that replaced 7 World Trade. (Daniel *Libeskind's original design for that building was cast aside.) The plan calls for Silverstein to construct five office towers that he has to rent. He also has to pay $120 million in rent a year, escalating to over $200 million by 2020, to the Port Authority. Silverstein was chairman of the Real Estate Board in New York, transforming it from a social club into a lobbying group. He enhanced his reputation early in his career with his philanthropic work for the United Jewish Appeal and his sponsorship of the New York University Real Estate Institute, where he taught an annual course.

[Stewart Kampel (2nd ed.)]

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