Friday, March 26, 2010

The Rebuilding of Ground Zero, Part 99

Is the announcement of a deal between Larry Silverstein and the Port Authority that was made yesterday nothing more than vaporware and bluster because it doesn't actually insure that 2 and 3 WTC actually gets built?

It would appear that the devil is in the details. There's no guarantee that the towers will get built, and 2 WTC, which was designed by Sir Norman Foster and is the one tower that won plaudits for its design, has apparently been shelved permanently.

Steve Cuozzo notes that this "breakthrough" accomplishes nothing whatsoever, and the mess with rebuilding 2 and 3 WTC remains just that - a mess.
In fact, the new "framework" pushes back construction of Towers 2 and 3 indefinitely, while promising only Tower 4 by 2013.

It includes "immediate construction" of a "transit and retail podium" at the Tower 3 site. Construction by whom? Silverstein has long said no to putting a shopping mall up before the rest of the building because it would push his office lobby up many floors above the street.

In fact, the tower might never get built, thanks to new pre-leasing and financing requirements unlikely to be met for years.

The parties almost made utter failure to make progress sound like a great step forward. There was too much public, political and media pressure for them not to. But how will they talk their way out of the hole next time?
4 WTC is currently underway in the southeast corner of the site, and it's expected to be the headquarters for the Port Authority, so there's no reason not to expect it to be completed. 2 and 3 WTC remain an open question, despite the fact that those towers should get built as quickly as possible because of the immediate impact it will have on the job market, and will encourage businesses to look at Lower Manhattan as more than just a perpetual construction zone, but as a world class business destination for class A office space that conforms to the latest environmental and safety standards.

That the parties can't seem to find the money, and that the politicians are even more clueless is an absolute travesty. At a time when billions are being thrown around by the federal government to engage in economic stimulus projects, the absence of money for rebuilding Ground Zero stands in stark contrast. This isn't just about the perception that such funds would go to a private developer - it is also about making sure that the towers get rebuilt following a devastating terrorist attack that destroyed the buildings on which he assumed a long term lease. A deal needs to be done, and this latest pronouncement isn't it.

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