Volume 18 • Issue 33 | Dec. 30 - Jan. 6, 2006

Rendering of proposed hotel-condo project at 123 Washington St., just south of the World Trade Center site.

W hotel on Washington won’t be as easy as 1, 2, 3

By Ronda Kaysen

Larry Silverstein isn’t the only developer Downtown eyeing the remaining tax-exempt Liberty Bonds for the World Trade Center redevelopment. Another Lower Manhattan heavyweight bid for a chunk of the bonds to finance a hotel and condo project a few blocks south of the World Trade Center site, and the city appears interested in his proposal.

Developer Joseph Moinian applied for $147 million in tax-exempt bonds for a 53-story W Hotel and residential condominium at 123 Washington St. The $240 million development includes 220 hotel rooms and 180 residential condo units. The bonds would be used for the hotel portion of the building.

The property, formerly 4 Albany St., is currently an empty lot, since a 9/11 damaged building there was removed earlier this year to make way for the new development.

The city is considering giving Moinian $50 million in Liberty Bonds for the project. “It’s a good use. It’s a project that would start right away,” said Andrew Alper, president of the city’s Economic Development Corporation and chairperson of the Industrial Development Agency, which decides on the city’s Liberty Bond applications.

But Silverstein, the leaseholder for the World Trade Center site, has been pleading his case for the remaining pot of Liberty Bonds. $3.35 billion in triple-tax free Liberty Bonds remain for commercial use. Earlier this month, Governor George Pataki tapped $1.67 billion for Silverstein. Silverstein maintains he needs all the remaining bonds to finance the build out of the Trade Center.

“Financing certainty on this entire project is going to expedite this entire project,” Janno Lieber, Silverstein’s senior vice president, told Downtown Express earlier this month.

The $50 million that may go to 123 Washington represents a small percentage of Silverstein’s bond application and it is unclear how vigorously the W.T.C. developer is opposing it. Silverstein declined to comment for this story.

Moinian is a major player Downtown. His company, the Moinian Group, owns Goldman Sachs’ office at 180 Maiden Lane, as well as 100 John St., 90 John St., 17 Battery Place and 20 West St., a condo conversion. Moinian was the first developer to use Liberty Bonds for a residential conversion when he transformed 90 Washington St. into a luxury rental building.

He insists his project will not obstruct Silverstein’s goals. “I want nothing more than to see Larry Silverstein and Silverstein Properties succeed in developing the World Trade Center site,” he said in a statement.  “I have no doubt that he will get this done.”

The hotel will occupy the lower 25 floors of the Gwathmey Siegel-designed tower, and include meeting rooms, an ancillary spa and fitness center, a high-end restaurant and lounge and a sky lobby. It is expected to open at the end of 2007.

Moinian purchased 123 Washington St. from Deutsche Bank when it was still 4 Albany St. The original structure was demolished as part of the sale agreement. Another formerly Deutsche Bank-owned, contaminated building, 130 Liberty St., is located across the street from 123 Washington and is also being demolished to make way for redevelopment.



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