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World Trade Center Developer Plans China Expansion

Larry Silverstein, redeveloper of towers at New York’s World Trade Center site, said he will expand investment in China and enter Israel for the first time to capture rising demand from wealth built on natural resources.

The company currently is focused on building mixed-used development including office, residential and retail properties in the Qianhai district of China’s southern city of Shenzhen, the chairman of New York-based Silverstein Properties Inc. said. In Israel, the developer is focused on hotel and residential properties, because of the country’s growing economy and oil and gas reserves, he said, without elaborating.

Silverstein, after more than five decades of investing almost entirely in New York City real estate, in 2011 made his first foray outside the U.S. in Poland, one of Europe’s most in-demand property markets. He joins non-Chinese developers including Tishman Speyer Properties LP in venturing out into the world’s second-largest economy to capture growing demand.

“My view is that these countries -- U.S., China, Israel and Poland -- are where our future is going to be certainly in the next five years, or probably longer,” Silverstein, 82, said in an interview in Shanghai yesterday. “Because I’m so focused on the best in terms of quality, there’s no time for anything that’s secondary.”

Financial Hub

Qianhai is a 15-square-kilometer (5.8-square-mile) zone on the west side of Shenzhen, Guangdong province, that the Chinese government is seeking to develop into a financial-service hub. Companies in the area will be encouraged to sell yuan-denominated bonds in Hong Kong and to experiment with cross-border loans in the currency, the National Development and Reform Commission said last year.

The area, expected to host financial and services companies, was created by China’s State Council in 2010 and has laws that model Hong Kong-style administrative structures.

Among other places in China, Silverstein is also looking at opportunities in Beijing and Shanghai, where it expects to build communities similar to the World Trade Center neighborhood, he said, declining to elaborate on the amount of the investment.

“There’s enough opportunity in these three cities,” Silverstein said.

Polish Venture

Silverstein teamed with Polish billionaire Jan Kulczyk on a 500 million-euro ($659 million) venture to buy and develop properties, beginning in Kulczyk’s home country. They made their first purchase, an eight-story Warsaw office building, in August 2011, and are working on plans to add towers to the Polish capital’s skyline.

The “long-term dynamics” of China will create “enormous opportunities” in the country’s real estate market, Rob Speyer, president and co-chief executive officer of Tishman Speyer, the owner of New York’s Rockefeller Center, said in an interview in Shanghai yesterday.

New York-based Tishman has developments in four Chinese cities: Shanghai, nearby Suzhou, the western city of Chengdu and Tianjin in the north.

Silverstein has $10 billion of development in the pipeline, including building a Four Seasons hotel at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, according to the company.

‘Very Confident’

Silverstein has rights to develop three of the four towers planned for the 16-acre (6.5-hectare) site where the original World Trade Center stood before the 2001 terrorist attacks.

Silverstein said he is “very confident” about filling up the space that will allow him to build 3 World Trade Center to its full 80 stories.

“As soon as possible, because I’m 82,” Silverstein said when asked when he expects to fill the space. “I need to move this along. I want to enjoy the fruits of all these efforts. No time for green bananas.”

He declined to disclose potential tenants.

Silverstein needs to fill at least 400,000 square feet (37,000 square meters) at the tower, which is slated to have 2.8 million square feet, before the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey will help him finance the project.

Group M, a division of WPP Plc, the world’s largest advertising company, and law firm White & Case LLP have sent statements saying they are interested in taking as much as 1.1 million square feet combined at 3 World Trade Center, two people with knowledge of the negotiations told Bloomberg News in December.

One World Trade Center -- being built by the Port Authority, the site’s owner, in partnership with developer Douglas Durst -- topped out last month at 1,776 feet, making it the tallest building in the western hemisphere.

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