Friday, March 02, 2007

The Battle for Ground Zero, Part 221

The LMDC is shutting down its webcam for Ground Zero. The LMDC had operated the webcam for the last year to show the progress (and lack thereof) ongoing at the site. The site is being shut down because of a lack of traffic to the site to justify the costs for operating the webcam.

There is another webcam operated by Project Rebirth that is documenting progress at the site.

Meanwhile, this story shouldn't surprise anyone. A couple of real estate moguls who oppose the construction of the Freedom Tower have a financial stake in making sure that the tower isn't built.
Last week, developers Douglas Durst and Anthony Malkin put their names at the bottom of full-page advertisements in several New York City newspapers by a group they are co-chairmen of called The Continuing Committee for a Reasonable World Trade Center. The advertisements said the project was ill conceived, too expensive, and poorly planned.

The ads were released just after the Spitzer administration indicated it would move forward with the project, and before the Port Authority approved several key construction contacts. They went into detail about the tower's architecture, its security vulnerabilities, its rent roll, its height, its name — just about everything except for the fact that the project includes plans for television and radio broadcast antennae that would replace those on the old twin towers, and compete with those on buildings owned by Messrs. Malkin and Durst.

Mr. Malkin controls the Empire State Building and Mr. Durst owns the Condé Nast Building at 4 Times Square, both of which are now the most desirable locations in the city for the location of television and radio broadcast facilities and their antennae.
The leasing of antennae space amounts to millions of dollars a year, and while it would represent only a fraction of the entire revenue stream, people have opposed construction with less vested interest in ensuring the status quo (no tower) persists. These two real estate ventures would stand to lose millions of dollars when the Freedom Tower is built, and to ignore that potential conflict of interest is most curious.

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