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BY JOSH ROGERS | The groundbreaking was five years ago, but the construction celebration was Tuesday as work to build a Four Seasons hotel is once again in motion a block from the World Trade Center.
Developer Larry Silverstein told Downtown Express there was no chance the project will ever get stalled again.
“We’ve got the financing, it’s going [to happen —] 100 percent absolutely,” he said immediately after the Dec. 3 “groundbreaking ceremony” (one attendee call it a “ground raising”) on the project valued at nearly $1 billion.
“Come back in three years and buy an apartment,” Silverstein added, referring to the 157 luxury condos that Four Seasons will also run with the 189 hotel rooms.
He’s a man who knows from Downtown delays.
After 9/11’s devastation a dozen years ago, his team rebuilt 7 W.T.C. in 2006, and finished 4 W.T.C. last month. He expects to soon finalize a tenant so work can continue at Tower 3, but he’s not sure when work will be able to start at the site’s Tower 2.
Unlike at the World Trade Center where delays have been caused by financial disputes, government turf wars and market forces, the problem at the Four Seasons site was much simpler: the worldwide financial meltdown of ’08.
There was no way to get loans to build the hotel, but Silverstein said this week that he was not worried.
“Luckily we had no mortgage debt on the land so we were able to sit back and relax, and wait for the world to come together,” he said. “Ultimately, the world does come together. “
He and his partners got the Children’s Investment Fund to fund the project. Silverstein Properties Inc. and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System bought the former Moody’s site at 99 Church St. in 2006 and built the foundation for the Four Seasons until 2009 before the financial collapse brought the project to a halt.
Construction work at what is now 30 Park Pl. resumed last month.
The site also faces Barclay St. There will also be an 8,500 square foot public plaza on the block.
The building’s exterior architect, Robert A.M. Stern, said over the loud sounds of construction equipment, “30 Park place is the gateway between Tribeca and the Financial District.”
He said he hoped the 926-foot tower would be a “worthy neighbor” to the landmarked Woolworth Building on the same block. It will be the largest residential tower Downtown.
The five-star chain’s Craig Reid, president of hotel operations in the Americas, said the Downtown Four Seasons would be the best one in North America. He also said it would be the first one in New York that the hotel helped design.
“We’re going to embrace a lot of the qualities of yesterday,” he said. “We want to honor the character of the neighborhood, the flavor of the town, the locals, and yet we want to bring in a level of service and a level of residential experience that hasn’t been seen in New York and in Lower Manhattan prior.”
Silverstein said the hotel should help spur the rest of the W.T.C. development and retail, which in turn helps the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.
“At the end of the day they’re all supportive of each other. It all becomes one huge,” he said before pausing for emphasis — “enterprising area.”
The expected opening is mid-2016.