World Trade Center builders rallied with hundreds of construction workers Monday to protest stalled payments by two insurers, saying their failure to pay is jeopardizing ground zero rebuilding.
Trade center developer Larry Silverstein, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey executive director Anthony Shorris, lawmakers and labor leaders rallied outside a National Association of Insurance Commissioners meeting, saying insurers Allianz and Royal & Sun Alliance UK are delaying rebuilding.
The two insurers are among those that have not agreed to pay their part of $4.6 billion in insurance money being used to design and rebuild five office towers on the 16-acre site, the officials said. Allianz and Royal owe about $800 million, said Edward J. Malloy, president of the Building & Construction Trades Council of Greater New York.
“The insurers will fight tooth and nail to avoid paying legitimate debts,” Silverstein said. “We will not stand by while they duck their obligations to New York and this nation.”
The Port Authority, which owns the trade center site, sued several insurers that didn’t immediately recognize a new agreement to split the insurance money with Silverstein, who leased the towers weeks before they were destroyed on Sept. 11, 2001. Allianz has not agreed to the new settlement, while Royal has recently dissolved its U.S. operations.
A spokesman for Royal didn’t return a phone message Monday. Allianz said it has already paid nearly $550 million to the Port Authority and Silverstein.
The insurer also said that the developers have enough money to redevelop ground zero.
Construction of the 1,776-foot Freedom Tower, which the Port Authority is building, has been under way for nearly a year. Building of three towers under Silverstein’s control is not expected to begin for another year. The Port Authority will build a fifth tower.