Silverstein Properties: Developer Creates Tower of StrengthNov 17, 2008
Working for Larry Silverstein means enjoying daily access-and unlimited bragging rights-to a stunning 360-degree view of Manhattan and its surroundings.
Lofty visions of the future are equally important inside the firm’s headquarters at 7 World Trade Center, where the developer labors to carry out his conception of a rebuilt WTC site.
“Working on the site means being a part of history,” says Gianna Frederique, a marketing and communications assistant.
By winning the 99-year lease on the Twin Towers in 2001-just before they were attacked-and fighting since Sept. 11 to rebuild every inch of space he is legally entitled to, Mr. Silverstein has become a major and sometimes controversial force in Manhattan real estate. He owns, manages or has under development some 18 million square feet of real estate.
The 77-year-old tycoon and his children Lisa and Roger work together at the firm, which Mr. Silverstein runs like a family business.
He earns good will by offering simple perks, including half days on summer Fridays and hefty financial rewards. Silverstein Properties awards bonuses that are above the industry average and pays nearly all the premiums for health and life insurance for every employee. When staffers face serious illnesses, Mr. Silverstein, a trustee of New York University Medical Center, helps them get top-notch care.
In for the long term
“He’s a mensch,” says Faith Hope Consolo, chairman of retail sales and leasing for Prudential Doug-las Elliman.
Mr. Silverstein’s excitement spikes as he points out employees who have been with him for decades, such as Debra Hudnell. Now vice president of human resources, Ms. Hudnell joined the company 27 years ago as an entry-level clerk.
“So many of our people started modestly and grew with the company,” Mr. Silverstein says. “At this point, I look at these people as extended family.”
Often seen as obdurate because of his insistence on rebuilding downtown despite the faltering real estate market, the magnate remains relentlessly enthusiastic about his company’s prospects, the future of lower Manhattan, and the viability of three more towers at Ground Zero.
“His passion and drive rub off on everyone,” says Roger Silverstein, a senior vice president. “And the views aren’t bad, either.”
BUSINESS Commercial real estate management/ development
TOTAL/NYC EMPLOYEES 178
RANK WITHIN MIDSIZE COS. 5
OVERALL RANK 21