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Monday, September 14, 2009

Shame of the World Trade Center "rebuilding" project, V. 

It's now eight years and three days since the 9/11 attacks destroyed the World Trade Center, and ...

New York decided to hand Osama a victory after all.

Al Qaeda didn't bring the city to its knees on 9/11. But ... we've failed utterly to replace what the terrorists destroyed. Ground Zero remains a pit -- and looks to stay that way for the foreseeable future.

... the blackened hulks of 130 Liberty St. (the Deutsche Bank building) and Fiterman Hall yet stand ...

Some naive souls fall for the official claims that "progress" is being made at a supposedly full-bore construction site. Newsday just reported excitedly that structural steel for 1 WTC has risen 100 feet above street level, compared with "only" 25 feet a year ago. Gee, that leaves 1,676 feet to go. At 75 feet a year, it will only take until mid-2031 to finish the job ...

Only one of Larry Silverstein's office buildings, Tower 4, has even started -- below ground. The models and images -- like the renderings of Towers 2, 3 and 4 posted around the site -- are a cruel joke, and the public knows it. It's impossible to imagine any of them rising soon -- if ever...

After eight years of political obstruction and Port Authority stalling, Silverstein finally got land he can build on -- only to be foiled by an unforgiving credit market that's snuffed out construction lending. That's given a dubious plausibility to the PA's claim that it's Silverstein who's holding up the works. Of course, he could have started work years ago -- if the PA had managed to turn the site over to him, as it was supposed to, in build-ready condition...

Only the unloved, morbid Memorial has found traction -- and even it will only be partly done by Sept. 11, 2011...

How did we come to this? We let our "leaders" do essentially nothing for nearly five years after 9/11 -- a time when the boom could have supported Silverstein's borrowing effort and provided tenants for his towers.

The corrupt, rudderless state government is mostly to blame. Then-Gov. George Pataki wasted 2002 and 2003 setting up an impotent Lower Manhattan Development Corp. He authorized interminable design competitions, then overrode his advisers to choose the Daniel Libeskind site plan -- which was so inappropriate that it took another year of emendation to make it even remotely buildable...

Pataki prohibited building on the Twin Tower footprints, thus forcing new buildings into too small a space. He fussed with the original Freedom Tower design -- even as he ignored the NYPD's objections to the tower's location on security grounds, concerns that would force a complete redrawing of the structure, delaying everything by yet another year.

The scandals of 130 Liberty St. and Fiterman Hall are also the state's doing; the LMDC controls the former, while the state-dominated City University of New York owns the latter.

Blame also George W. Bush, a wartime president who was oblivious to the symbolic urgency of swiftly rebuilding the World Trade Center. If he ever picked up the phone to say, Boys, let's get on with the job, it's never been reported.

Mayor Bloomberg dithered until 2006, when he brokered a deal that forced Silverstein to cede Tower 1 to the PA -- which is building it at the slowest pace since the elements forged the Grand Canyon.

Rudy Giuliani, a 9/11 hero, called for the entire WTC site to be made into a memorial -- lending rhetorical throw-weight to the insidious campaign led by The New York Times against commercial rebuilding. [The Times, having invested in building a 52-story commercial office tower of its own, had every reason not to want competing space to be built.]

And we're all to blame. How? For allowing most of the $20 billion the feds sent to rebuild Lower Manhattan to be wasted on tax credits and ancillary projects -- even on new buildings far from Ground Zero -- instead of the one thing that was needed: a new World Trade Center.
[New York Post]

The Empire State Building was built in 470 days -- from first shovel of dirt turned on January 22, 1930, to grand opening on May 1, 1931.

Shame IV, III, II & I, and back when I was young and had foolish hope.