Monday, August 06, 2007

The Battle For Ground Zero, Part 240

Andrea Peyser claims to have her finger on the pulse of 9/11 families and claims that many want to move beyond the "small things" and not fight over every single issue, whether it is the location of the memorial service or other aspects of construction.
IT'S time to move on. Six years after 9/11, a rift has formed between families who just can't let go and those who need to get on with our lives.

The fault line, where widow has turned against widower, lies directly on Ground Zero.

It's come to this. A small but vocal group of survivors has made a lot of noise lately - set on spending Sept. 11, 2007, at the World Trade Center site. Construction be damned.

But most relatives I've talked to think moving the service nearby, as Mayor Bloomberg insists, is a safer option, now that long-overdue rebuilding is under way.

Worse, they fear that perpetually disgruntled relatives threaten to turn all survivors into a joke.

"To me, they're just using this as a cause celebre to gain publicity," a relative who serves on the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation told me, asking for anonymity.

"I, for one, am happy to see activity at the site."

The notion is more widespread than you'd think.

"You've got people here with unresolved issues," said Charles Wolf, who lost his wife on 9/11. After visiting Ground Zero, he thinks it's too dangerous to host a throng.

"They're going to ruin it," he warned. "They're going to make all the other family members think, 'This is horrible' - then the families won't come to the memorial ceremony because they've heard all this bad news."
I've been saying for some time now that these issues would have come to a head whether it was this year or in the next two years as Ground Zero is tranformed from a sprawling pit interspersed with areas of activity to one that is a huge construction site rising towards street level and the heavens.

The construction pace is picking up steam, which means that even if the debate over where to hold the memorial didn't happen this year, it would have happened next year and beyond until the memorial is built because the site really has become a construction zone not safe for large groups of people.

Meanwhile, the last pillar of the original Twin Towers to be taken down is going to be heading back to Ground Zero, where the 9/11 Museum and Memorial will be built around it.
The column, weighing 65 tons, was the last piece of the Twin Towers carried from Ground Zero on May 30, 2002, during a heart-wrenching procession. At the time, thousands of rescue workers and tradesmen stood and saluted.

"It's become a symbol of the attack itself as well as a symbol of the recovery that followed," said Alice Greenwald, director of the Memorial Museum.

The column is so large that museum officials realized they would have to move it to Ground Zero and build the museum around it.

"Obviously, you can't bring it in through the front door," Greenwald said.

But long before any thought could be given to displaying the column, museum officials and the Port Authority had to contend with preserving the massive piece of steel.
via Gothamist Another piece of the WTC that had attracted quite a bit of debate, the survivor's staircase, appears to have had its future resolved by Gov. Spitzer.
Held together and supported by a specially designed truss, the stairs would be moved out of the way of the planned 2 World Trade Center office tower. Eventually, they would be set into a long flight of steps leading from the visitors’ center at ground zero to the underground World Trade Center memorial museum, which is to open in 2009.

The stairway served as an escape route on 9/11 and is the only aboveground remnant of the original trade center complex still in place. It stands near Vesey Street, on part of the site where Tower 2 is to rise.

For months, preservationists, survivors of the attack, neighbors, officials and development executives have fought over how much of this ragged but evocative structure ought to be saved and where it ought to end up.

Advocates have portrayed the stairway as a haunting symbol of the resilience, heroism and sheer good luck of those who found a tortuous way to safety on Sept. 11, 2001. Some expressed the hope that the entire structure would be preserved in place. Critics have dismissed the stairway as an obstruction and an eyesore that lost much of its meaning when it was badly damaged — not by the attack, but during the recovery and cleanup. Some just wanted it torn down.

Under the Pataki administration, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation proposed to disassemble the stairway, leaving some granite stair treads in their original location, but reoriented within the staircase to the lobby of Tower 2. The bottommost tread was to have been moved off and set into the memorial plaza. Other treads might have been used within the memorial museum.
7 WTC continues to find tenants for its 1.7 million sf of space, but the top floor remains unleased. Silverstein has compensated by renting the top floor out for parties. He's managed to get $25,000 per day for bashes, which have attracted everyone from A-Listers to Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan.
Calvin Klein had its Fashion Week after-party there last fall, decking out the space with clusters of sleek white couches, shag carpeting, bars and light installations. For a fragrance launch in November, Valentino created an urban garden with 50,000 roses. Christian Dior recently created a wraparound runway.

Chad Kaydo, the editor of the event-planning magazine BiZBash, reportedly anointed 7 World Trade "the space of the year."

Naomi Campbell, Donald Trump Jr., Lindsay Lohan and Drew Barrymore are just a few of the big names to make appearances.

Men's Health magazine sponsored a contest that had hundreds of people sprinting up and down the building's 52 flights of stairs. Hollywood has even filmed a movie on the premises: "Perfect Stranger," with Bruce Willis and Halle Berry.

"We figured the best way to market this building would be to have people come in and see it," McQuillan said.
The top floor will rent sooner or later, as people realize that 7WTC floorplan and amenities would be fetching twice the price if it was situated in Midtown (via Curbed).

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