- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 26, 2006

NEW YORK (AP) — Breaking an impasse that threatened to hold up the rebuilding at ground zero, state officials and developer Larry Silverstein reached an agreement yesterday under which Mr. Silverstein gave up control over the planned 1,776-foot Freedom Tower.

The deal was reached after months of sometimes bitter negotiations over the future of the World Trade Center site.

Officials with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the property, had been pressing Mr. Silverstein, who holds the 99-year lease on the site, to give up some control over the project. City and state officials had argued that Mr. Silverstein lacked the money to build it all and was running the risk of an embarrassing failure.

“With today’s agreement, we can now move forward with rebuilding the World Trade Center,” Mr. Silverstein said. Construction trucks will start rolling today, he said.

Mr. Silverstein agreed to give control of the Freedom Tower and another planned skyscraper to the Port Authority. He will build three other towers at the site.

Officials said the deal ensures that all five planned towers will be built by 2012.

“We have an agreed-upon framework and we can move forward,” Gov. George E. Pataki said. “This is the last stumbling block to putting shovels in the ground” on the Freedom Tower, the skyscraper that will rise on the site of the Twin Towers.

The Republican governor said the plan “will make certain that the rebuilt World Trade Center will anchor the financial capital of the world and make our nation proud.”

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