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The Port Authority Will Try To Sell 1WTC For $5B

One World Trade Center
One World Trade Center

The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey has financially suffered with One World Trade Center, and has begun looking to sell the iconic tower to the highest bidder. It will be easier said than done. 

Almost 15 years to the day after the attacks, the 3M SF, 1,776-foot tower still isn’t close to fully occupied, and has brought in middling revenues for the Port Authority, which has been under pressure to return to its mission of improving transit infrastructure and began divesting its real estate assets since 2014. The tower only brought in $13M last year, a 0.35% ROI that doesn't keep pace with inflation, Crain's reports.

Expected to be on the trading block within the next year, the tower could sell for more than $5B, the highest price ever paid for a US office building. Fitting, considering 1WTC is the tallest building in the country.

TIAA, CalPERS and other institutional investors are the most likely bidders, but foreign investors and overseas governments looking for stable, income-producing assets may also have their eye on the property, especially in the wake of the Brexit vote. 

But, Crain’s points out, a foreign purchase would raise concerns with the US government, which has multiple agencies stationed in the tower, and families of 9/11 victims who may not be happy at the prospect of the emotionally significant tower being in the hands of a foreign entity.

These foreign investors could partner with large NYC landlords, but these companies—such as Silverstein Properties, Brookfield Properties or The Related Cos—could also try and buy the tower on their own. 

Regardless of who it is, the bidder most likely will have to buy out the Durst Organization, which owns a $100M interest in the tower that’ll be converted into an ownership stake when the tower’s fully leased in 2019, and has first dibs on matching a potential buyer's offer and the right to block any deal before its ownership vests.

With all these hurdles, some believe it’s a fool's errand to try and sell the tower, advising the PA to divest other properties, like the Red Hook container terminal, or wait until the building's fully leased, which could give the Port Authority revenue, a higher valuation and an increased borrowing capacity. Others believe the Authority’s in over its head in the real estate game and needs to get out while it can. [Crain's]