By Joan Gralla
(Reuters) - Silverstein Properties still expects to land tenants for its three delayed downtown World Trade Center skyscrapers despite competition from established and planned midtown competitors, Janno Lieber, Silverstein's president, said on Friday.
Officials from Silverstein Properties, named after developer Larry Silverstein, were demonstrating the progress that has been achieved in redeveloping ground zero before next Thursday's 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks.
Two of Silverstein's skyscrapers still have no completion date after political infighting and clashes over finance, designs and security added years to the rebuilding.
Many firms favor midtown locations because their clients are clustered there and their employees commute through midtown train stations to the suburbs in New Jersey, Connecticut and Long Island. Threatening to shift to the WTC is a common bargaining tactic, however.
Lieber noted the WTC complex has 11 subway lines that make the site an easy commute for workers who live in Brooklyn and New Jersey's coastline cities.
"There's a price advantage to being downtown, no question," Lieber told reporters on the 60th floor of Four World Trade Center, which should open in 13 months. "You get new, green and (modern) information technology at the price of a 30-year old building in midtown," he said.
Tax-exempt financing that the $2-billion skyscraper qualified for helped cuts its cost by 30 percent.
Three WTC can only be built seven stories high, so shops can open, until Silverstein has raised $300 million and pre-leased 400,000 square feet (37,160 square meters). Two WTC can rise no higher than street until Silverstein secures tenants.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey owns the site and its One World Trade Center will be the tallest building in the western hemisphere when it opens in early 2014.
In addition to an uncertain economy, Silverstein and the Port Authority face a new rival: west midtown's Hudson Yards project, which includes 6 million square feet of offices.
(Additional reporting by Ilaina Jonas; Editing by Bob Burgdorfer)
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