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City nixes idea to give airports for WTC land

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The city has decided to forgo the idea of taking control of Ground Zero in exchange for the two Queens airports, a spokesman for the mayor’s office said.

The Bloomberg administration had been discussing a land swap with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, trading the city-owned land at the airport for the PA-owned property at the World Trade Center site.

Instead the mayor is working to negotiate a new lease for the PA to rent the land at Kennedy and LaGuardia airports, a spokesman said Monday in a phone interview with the TimesLedger.

The city owns both airports and leases the land to the PA under a multi-year contract that has netted as little as $3 million a year for the city. Although the Bloomberg administration has been renegotiating the leases to increase the rents by hundreds of millions of dollars, the PA was expected to pay only about $3.5 million this year.

And while the city would have lost that income in the proposed land swap, it would have gained about $124 million a year in rent on the World Trade Center site.

Earlier this year, Bloomberg had asked the Port Authority for as much as $690 million in back rent and $90 million a year to rent the airports, figures Gov. George Pataki said were high. During budget negotiations, Pataki pledged to include $500 million in back rent, but Bloomberg rejected the offer.

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