In November 2014, after more than a decade of political disarray and public disappointment, the first World Trade Center tower finally opened, giving New Yorkers a sense that the sprawling commercial complex was becoming a reality once and for all. Things came more into focus this year, when the transit hub opened in March, followed by the topping out of 3 World Trade Center in late June.
And yet, a crucial piece of the development project — 2 World Trade Center— is still missing.
Just six months ago, Silverstein Properties was seeking to close on $2 billion in debt to construct the 2.8-million-square-foot, 1,270-foot-tall tower designed by Bjarke Ingels, when the developer was struck by a deal-killing blow: Its anchor-tenants-to-be, Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox and News Corp., announced in a joint letter that they were pulling out of their agreement to lease 1.3 million square feet on the lower levels of the building.
“We won’t start that building without some level of preleasing,” the firm’s CEO, Marty Burger, told The Real Deal. “We need either an anchor tenant or enough tenants to get to the preleasing level that will make lenders comfortable.”
It’s an improbable set of circumstances: One of the city’s most notable developers can’t get one of the city’s most well-known commercial office projects off the ground.
As lenders become all the more sensitive to which deals make sense on their books, both commercial and residential developers have become entangled in a game of survival of the fittest. The majority of banks and other financial firms have become increasingly selective about the kinds of projects they are willing to finance.
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