Rebuilding Ground Zero: Larry Silverstein, CEO, Silverstein Properties Named EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ 2010 Winner in the Real Estate, Hospitality and Construction Category
One of New York City's biggest property owners and real estate managers, Silverstein was recognized for his perseverance in and commitment to rebuilding the World Trade Center. Silverstein was honored at the Entrepreneur Of The Year™ gala, the culminating event of the EY Strategic Growth Forum in Palm Springs. The Forum is the nation’s premiere gathering of high-growth, market-leading companies. Awards were given in nine additional categories. All EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ winners were selected by an independent panel of judges from approximately 300 regional award recipients.
“A light switch approach to entrepreneurship will not yield desired results; it cannot be turned on and off,” said Bryan Pearce, Americas Director, Entrepreneur Of The Year, Ernst & Young LLP. “Entrepreneurship and innovation, as Silverstein has demonstrated, requires consistent, long-term enduring support. In addition to his tireless work and perseverance in rebuilding the World Trade Center, Silverstein has led the industry by injecting much needed capital into innovative and sustainable projects. Larry Silverstein truly embodies the entrepreneurial spirit and we are very excited to honor him as the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ 2010 national winner in the Real Estate, Hospitality and Construction Category.”
Pearce continued: “While the current recession has seriously impacted the real estate industry, it has also created several opportunities for entrepreneurs in this space. For example, the increase in government funds available for infrastructure and public works projects opens the door for public-private partnerships that create jobs.”
Real estate in his blood
Having entered his father’s real estate brokerage business after graduating, Silverstein soon realized that owning the buildings was a more lucrative option than being the broker. He convinced his father and other investors to take a chance in converting a rundown manufacturing loft in New York’s Garment District into office space. That conversion put Harry G. Silverstein and Sons, the predecessor to Silverstein Properties, on the road to becoming a real estate success story.
His foresight allowed him to take what others considered a giant risk in the 1980s. He leased the last piece of undeveloped land at the World Trade Center site from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey for what would become 7 World Trade Center.
In 2001, Silverstein completed the biggest deal in New York City real estate history. The Port Authority had decided to privatize the World Trade Center, including the Twin Towers, and Silverstein emerged with a 99-year lease to the complex in July of that year.
Rebuilding the World Trade Center
The tragic events of September 11, 2001, touched Silverstein personally, as four employees of Silverstein Properties were among the thousands killed that day. Only his wife’s insistence that he keep a doctor’s appointment kept him from being at work when the planes struck the towers.
He vowed to rebuild, and despite difficult, and often contentious, disagreements over the future of the site, the rebuilding effort is picking up pace. He began reconstruction with 7 World Trade Center, which, like the Towers, collapsed on September 11. He also had to build without any firm commitments from a major tenant.
Silverstein has been proven prescient. He completed the building in 2006, making it New York City’s first LEED-certified office building. Today, it is 85% occupied.
Giving back to the community
While rebuilding the World Trade Center dominates Silverstein’s professional life, he still finds time to play an important role in New York’s philanthropic community. He has been a significant donor to educational and medical research. In 1967, he founded the New York University Real Estate Institute, where he has shared not only his financial resources, but his professional expertise through his “Silverstein Workshop.”
He continues to serve as a member of the Board of Trustees of the New York University School of Medicine Foundation and has served as the Chairman of the Board for the UJA Federation and the Real Estate Board of New York.
Entrepreneur Of The Year™ 2010 National Finalists in the Real Estate, Hospitality, and Construction Category
In addition to Silverstein, The EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ national finalists in the Real Estate, Hospitality, and Construction category are: Sunil Dharod, President of Dallas-based Dharod, Inc., a food services company that owns and operates 37 Applebees and 18 Burger King restaurants in North Texas with an annual sales of more than 100 million; Chaim Katzman, Chairman of Gazit Globe (TASE: GLOB) of Miami, a multinational real estate investment company with a concentration in retail and healthcare; and M.A. “Mort” Mortenson, Jr., Chairman of Minneapolis-based M.A. Mortenson Company, a family-owned, privately-held diversified construction organization, offering services in construction, design-build, development, preconstruction, program management and more.
Overall Entrepreneur Of The Year™ 2010 National Winner
Howard W. Lutnick, Chairman and CEO of BGC Partners, Inc. (NASDAQ: BGCP), was named the Overall EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ 2010 national winner.
Video and Photos
To view video clips of all the Entrepreneur Of The Year™ winners, please visit the EY YouTube Channel at http://www.youtube.com/user/ErnstandYoungGlobal. Photos of the winners are also available by request.
Founded and produced by Ernst & Young LLP, the Entrepreneur Of The Year™ awards are pleased to have the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and SAP America as national sponsors.
About EY’s Entrepreneur Of The Year™
EY’s Entrepreneur Of The Year™ is the world’s most prestigious business award for entrepreneurs. The award makes a difference through the way it encourages entrepreneurial activity among those with potential and recognizes the contribution of people who inspire others with their vision, leadership and achievement. As the first and only truly global award of its kind, EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ celebrates those who are building and leading successful, growing and dynamic businesses, recognizing them through regional, national and global awards programs in more than 135 cities in 50 countries.
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