“Everybody who called me or responded said they agreed with what we said,” Douglas Durst, developer of One Bryant Park, told The Real Estate on Wednesday afternoon.
He was talking about the reaction to the ad that Mr. Durst and fellow real estater Anthony Malkin placed that morning in major New York newspapers. The ad objected to moving ahead with the Freedom Tower.
The $2.4 billion tower, the ad said, “is the legacy of poor planning and decision-making by the Pataki administration,” and will be “occupied by government agencies at overly expensive rents.”
The duo called the 2005 redesign by David Childs “extraordinarily expensive to build and cumbersome for tenants.”
Mr. Durst said that the ad, written like an open letter, was planned well before Monday’s announcement by Governor Spitzer that he supported building the Freedom Tower after all.
“We had been working on doing an op-ed for a while,” Mr. Durst said. “When it became apparent that something was happening this week with the Port Authority, there wasn’t time for that. For an op-ed, they do a lot of fact-checking. It would have gone through a procedure.”
The Port Authority on Thursday will discuss and likely approve construction contracts for the Freedom Tower. Mr. Durst said that he did not expect the ad buy, in The New York Times, The New York Post, The New York Daily News and The New York Observer, would change the commissioners’ minds.
“I don’t know if we have made any impact except we feel we can sleep at night,” he said. “What’s being done now is so wrong that we both felt we could not keep silent about such an important project.”
Both the Malkin and Durst families own considerable commercial real estate in Midtown. Mr. Durst said they were not worried about competition from Ground Zero because Lower Manhattan rents are much lower.
Rather, he said they were continuing a family tradition: his father, Seymour Durst, and Mr. Malkin’s grandfather, Lawrence Wien, had formed the Committee for a Reasonable World Trade Center to protest the original twin towers in the 1960s. The ad this time around was sponsored by something called The Continuing Committee for a Reasonable World Trade Center.
– Matthew Schuerman
Update and Correction: The Real Estate heard from Anthony Malkin Thursday morning (an earlier version of this post mistakenly said it was his father, Peter, who placed the ad). He had received “close to 100 e-mails” about the ad, all of them supportive. “I was just on the phone doing another transaction with a senior officer of a major pension fund who said, ‘You are actually spot on,'” Mr. Malkin said. “Maybe one shouldn’t expect to hear from the people speaking against you, but I don’t know of anyone aside from the contractors who want to build the building who probably want to see us pressing ahead on this.”