Foye Sees ‘Peace Dividend’ After World Trade Center Completion

Substantial completion of the World Trade Center site will result in a “peace dividend” that can be invested in the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s “core transportation assets,” said Patrick J. Foye, who was confirmed as executive director of the authority in October.

He also discussed the role of government in developing real estate and the focus of the Port Authority for today’s Bloomberg Brief: Municipal Market newsletter:

Q. There’s been some turnover in your position. How long would you like to stay in the job?

A. The Port Authority has had seven executive directors in the last 10 years. For an organization focused on the long-term and long-lived assets, that’s not healthy and it’s not good for our region. I’d like to serve as long as I’m effective and enjoy the confidence of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and the Port board.

Q. Had the Port Authority gotten away from its core mission in recent years?

A. To some extent, yes. Government is not a natural, or particularly gifted, real-estate developer. That’s why the decision to add the Durst Organization as a partner in 1WTC and, we expect, Westfield as a partner in WTC retail, itself an extraordinarily valuable asset, was important in bringing the best of the private sector to these assets.

Greater focus on airports, bridges, tunnels, ports and PATH will benefit the region and the Port Authority. I believe that substantial completion of the World Trade Center site will result in a “peace dividend” which after debt service incurred for the World Trade Center will yield substantial amounts for investment in our core transportation assets.

Q. What’s the authority’s biggest challenge now?

A. Among our greatest challenges is weathering the travails of today’s economy, paying close attention to return on investment, treating our customers as modern consumers expect, meeting our commitments to our bondholders and maintaining a focus on the future of the region. We must also realize that in today’s economy, our toll-paying customers are experiencing the financial stresses of today’s economy and that we must squeeze maximum value out of every dollar. [Editor’s Note: Foye voted against the MTA fare increase in 2010 as a member of the MTA Board.]

Q. Will “the fourth jetport” idea first floated back in 1959 be resurrected?

A. We’re focused on the five we have: JFK, LaGuardia, Newark, Stewart and Teterboro, thank you very much. Our plan is to invest substantial amounts in our airports, which are one of the major engines of the regional economy.

Q. What about public-private partnership efforts?

A. The Port Authority will be a leader in exploring uses of private capital, design/build and other capital-raising and risk-shedding techniques.

We’re committed to moving the Goethals Bridge project forward.

Foye also cited projects including LaGuardia’s Central Terminal Building and Newark Terminal A.

To contact the reporter on this story: Joe Mysak in New York at jmysakjr@bloomberg.net.

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