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Thread: Keeping the Vision at Ground Zero

  1. #1

    Default Keeping the Vision at Ground Zero

    NY Times

    As the two-year anniversary of Sept. 11 draws near, New York City and the world may well imagine that the site of the terrorist attack is on its way to transformation. Everyone has seen the thrilling structures planned by Studio Daniel Libeskind, including the exposed slurry wall that will remind history both of how deep the wound was and how solid the city's physical and social foundations proved in time of attack. Everyone is expecting the selection of a memorial to the victims that will be equally powerful. New Yorkers also trust that the leaders of the development will be able to combine these projects with a larger rebuilding of Lower Manhattan. The greatest memorial of all to the victims will be a grand, vibrant, diverse community of residences, businesses, cultural institutions and parks. But although our vision of what is supposed to be coming gets clearer every day, the process of getting there still faces some of the same problems it did in those first weeks after the tragedy.

    Mainly, there is still confusion about who controls the 16-acre site. The owner of the lease on the destroyed towers threatens to dominate the rebuilding process. Other business people with ties to the area are pressing for plans that would maximize commercial development. Residents of the neighborhood want to have a park more than the slurry wall. The confusion isn't surprising, given the mix of public and private interests that had a stake in the site before it was destroyed. But ground zero has now become the most public of all American public places, and the decision on what to do with it must be made by public bodies for the public good. No matter who controlled it before, this site now belongs to all of its survivors, not one group.

    The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, charged with coordinating the rebuilding, launched what turned out to be an inspiring and successful public process to help decide what to do with those 16 empty acres. It resulted in the rejection of some initial dull proposals for Mr. Libeskind's stirring concept.

    Lately, Mr. Libeskind has irritated some with his demands and antics, but the development corporation and Gov. George Pataki, who pushed for the Libeskind proposal, should take those irritations in stride and protect the plan. The soaring tower that echoes the Statue of Liberty and the slurry wall that held out the Hudson River are central to the Libeskind vision. At the end of the process, if a dramatic promise has been nibbled into something mundane or worse, the political leaders will have failed at what is perhaps the most important monument and urban development project in recent American history.

    Perhaps the most persistent threat to the public vision of the rebuilding process comes from the private developers who had a stake in the site before it was destroyed. Foremost among them is Larry Silverstein, who had acquired the lease for the World Trade Center towers six weeks before they were attacked. Mr. Silverstein is now involved in complicated court cases with the insurers, and he expects to claim between $3.5 billion and $7 billion and use it to build whatever he thinks best.

    Mr. Silverstein and other leaseholders often appear more interested in expanding the amount of office and commercial space in the plan, but they must recognize that this is not a normal real estate development with a few additional legal entanglements. The site now belongs to a bruised public that has already resoundingly rejected plans that call for massive blocks of office buildings and stores. If the private interests involved in this venture fail to accept that, the public representatives should not hesitate to consider condemning the property and taking control on behalf of the people.

    Others, well-intended, are pressing ideas for the area that would limit the scope of the Libeskind vision and drain resources away from the grander plan. One is the concept of a Museum of Freedom. All of ground zero, from the memorial to the 1,776-foot tower, must express the concept of freedom. A single museum about freedom would narrow, rather than expand, that feeling. And the idea of subsidizing a museum of any kind should compete with suggestions for other kinds of cultural amenities. That debate has just begun.

    Governor Pataki recently came up with an energetic timetable for rebuilding Lower Manhattan, thus attaching his name to the whole messy venture. That is both commendable and brave, since the progress can be easily compared to his promises. Some critics have accused him of laying out his timetable so that he can have something to show his fellow Republicans when they come to New York City next August for their national convention. Mr. Pataki has denied such a partisan motive. But in reality, it is not a terrible idea to have an August 2004 deadline for the governor and mayor to be able to show their colleagues and the international media how much progress they have made at ground zero.

    ------------------

    I wonder who's going to get taken more seriously. The NY Post and their pro-Silverstein editorials or this from the NY Times?

  2. #2

    Default Keeping the Vision at Ground Zero

    The Post is required reading for all decision makers and a reference for us all.

  3. #3

    Default Keeping the Vision at Ground Zero

    One is the concept of a Museum of Freedom.

    That is such a brilliant idea.
    I can't wait to join hordes of visitors who will flock to this museum as soon as it opens. And will probably come back several times.
    It's really the key to the success of the new complex.

    I am, of course, kidding.

  4. #4
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    Default Keeping the Vision at Ground Zero

    It will provide a chronological history of America's warpath and rampage to bring freedom to those predominantly white countries that we have a financial interest in, with a special section on why certain dictatorships and totalitarian regimes are "good and fine by us".

    It should be as enthralling asthe Museum of Finance, which I'm sure you all know is in the old Standar Oil building because you have visited repeatedly.

  5. #5

    Default Keeping the Vision at Ground Zero

    One of the very best !

  6. #6

    Default Keeping the Vision at Ground Zero

    Freedom will be enclosed in protective glass for people to study and admire.

  7. #7

    Default Keeping the Vision at Ground Zero

    Quote: from Kris on 6:22 am on June 30, 2003
    The Post is required reading for all decision makers and a reference for us all.
    You're correct.

    NY Post...

    GROUND ZERO ACTION

    By STEVE CUOZZO *

    June 30, 2003 -- GOV. Pataki has pulled the plug on the Ground Zero land-swap proposal, The Post's William Neuman reported Friday. It's the most welcome political news downtown has seen since 9/11. Now the question is: Can the governor can keep the streak going?

    It sounds like Pataki's been reading the papers. The Post reported last month that Wall Street firm Huntsworth Financial - confounding propaganda that companies want no part of Ground Zero - is moving to new offices overlooking it because its executives want to be there to witness the site's rebirth.

    And the Wall Street Journal reported last week that lawyers at Thacher Proffitt & Wood moving into the World Financial Center are enthused about getting to watch "the progress being made" below - and few employees chose an option to sit at windows facing the other way.

    The realization that Wall Street honchos not only await Ground Zero's rebirth, but are excited about watching it happen, might explain Pataki's welcome and overdue action.

    By putting an end to the trade talk - the idea that the city would give the Port Authority ownership of JFK and La Guardia Airports in exchange for the World Trade Center site - Pataki is at last heeding warnings that the reclamation effort must shake off its political baggage now.

    Ground Zero planning, contentious enough, is sandbagged every week by another loose piece of luggage somebody throws on the belt. Two weeks ago Pataki was the culprit, telling the PA he didn't want a bus garage under "Danny" Libeskind's suburban-like sunken lawn. Last week Rudy Giuliani popped up to call for a 9-acre memorial park on the 16-acre site.

    But the land-swap scheme was the worst albatross. The possibility that a city that can't manage to build public toilets might end up responsible for rebuilding Ground Zero cast a long, dark shadow over the site's future. *

    As long as the land-swap idea remained alive, it made nonsense of whatever has been accomplished until now. The work of all the players - the LMDC, the PA, Larry Silverstein, his retail partners Westfield America and even Pataki's pet Libeskind - was at risk of being wasted via a deal that could have sent the whole process back to square one.

    Why bother having the Pataki-controlled LMDC and PA plan anything if the city might end up controlling the site? Mayor Bloomberg has made no secret of doing something entirely different with it if he had his way. (And the stink the mayor's made over Pataki's scuttling of the land-swap talks, reported by The Post's David Seifman on Saturday, proves that Bloomberg took the idea damned seriously.)

    This columnist noted with alarm on May 8 that "Pataki has yet to give the scheme the kiss-off it deserves," and "why he hasn't is the great - and inexplicably overlooked - downtown mystery."

    Maybe Pataki just didn't want to tick off Bloomberg by publicly dumping the mayor's pipedream. But now the gov has told the PA to suspend talks on the scheme - and it looks dead for good.

    What was it that gave Pataki a kick in the butt? Thank a new, more optimistic mood downtown, and the clock ticking down toward next summer's Republican National Convention here.

    Ground Zero now has an air of physical progress - the PA is building a new PATH station, and Silverstein is doing preliminary work on 7 WTC next door. But true World Trade Center site redevelopment is still bogged down.

    Both Silverstein's insurance issues and the strength of the real-estate market matter. But the real logjam is political.

    Silverstein and Libeskind continue to bicker over who will be the lead architect for the 1,776-foot tall "Freedom Tower" that Pataki desperately wants under way for the Republican convention. (Does he think that the world's tallest office building can be drawn on a napkin a few weeks before the president comes to town?)

    And the inertia is more embarrassing now that the rest of downtown is getting back on its feet. Delays at the WTC seemed forgivable when the area looked moribund. But in a climate where the Wall Street Journal reported last week that "Lower Manhattan Shows Signs of Recovery" and "The tide has begun to turn for Lower Manhattan," the Ground Zero morass is less easily rationalized.

    Almost since 9/11, downtown's supposed irreversible decline enabled specious arguments against restoring the WTC's lost office space.

    This newspaper for the past year was all but alone in insisting that downtown's condition, though serious, was not mortal - that its vacancy rate was far lower than was claimed elsewhere, that companies who'd once vowed never to return were trickling back, that the Financial District's great recuperative powers would inevitably reassert themselves.

    Now this is happening in a way too obvious to ignore. Goldman Sachs has scrubbed plans to move traders to New Jersey. Uptown firms are kicking the tires at the WFC. After The Post first reported on Wall Street CEOs' dismay over poor street conditions and loss of momentum, Pataki announced a batch of short-term fixes and an accelerated construction schedule.

    Although there's still plenty of space up for grabs, all it will take is a few big lease signings by year's end to make downtown look downright hot.

    This is the atmosphere in which Pataki has finally buried the land-swap. Now, maybe he'll take the next step: lock all the players together in a room and not let them out until they produce a workable plan. It is not too late for the governor to drop his politically driven tinkering for what Ground Zero urgently needs: leadership.
    Last edited by Kris; October 5th, 2009 at 05:38 AM.

  8. #8

    Default Keeping the Vision at Ground Zero

    This is the atmosphere in which Pataki has finally buried the land-swap. Now, maybe he'll take the next step: lock all the players together in a room and not let them out until they produce a workable plan. It is not too late for the governor to drop his politically driven tinkering for what Ground Zero urgently needs: leadership.
    Someone has got to control the children.

  9. #9

    Default Keeping the Vision at Ground Zero

    And Cuozzo wins the Putz prize for editorial journalism.

  10. #10

    Default Keeping the Vision at Ground Zero

    [quote]Quote: from NYguy on 5:29 pm on June 30, 2003
    Quote: from Kris on 6:22 am on June 30, 2003
    Last week Rudy Giuliani popped up to call for a 9-acre memorial park on the 16-acre site.
    How does Rudy Giuliani have any say in the reconstruction? *He can complain all he wants, but he has no more influence than the rest of us.
    Last edited by Kris; October 4th, 2009 at 06:18 PM.

  11. #11

    Default Keeping the Vision at Ground Zero

    This is the Libeskind Tower 1


  12. #12
    Moderator NYatKNIGHT's Avatar
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    Default Keeping the Vision at Ground Zero

    You mean "Danny" Libeskind Tower 1.

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    Default Keeping the Vision at Ground Zero

    "the Wall Street Journal reported last week that "Lower Manhattan Shows Signs of Recovery""

    "The realization that Wall Street honchos not only await Ground Zero's rebirth, but are excited about watching it happen, might explain Pataki's welcome and overdue action"

    Um does the NY Post even care that the Wall Street Journal is one of the companies that fled Lower Manhattan for NJ, and most of their employees will not return.

    I work in Princeton and a couple months ago I was visiting a client who worked for the WSJ, he used to work in Lower Manhattan. But after 9-11 he and almost every other WSJ/ Dow Jones employee was relocated to the Dow Jones's sprawling campus on Rt 1 on the South Brunswick / Princeton border.

    He told me that the WSJ/Dow Jones occupied 14-17 floors in Lower Manhattan before 9-11, now everyone has moved to the Princeton campus except the top excecutives.

    He said they only have 4 floors in Manhattan, and that the real WSJ reporting work is done from Princeton.

    He was under the impression that they would not be returning, which was really hard on some folks. Alot of folks live in Connecticut and now were commuting to Princeton NJ!

    I think it's terrible the WSJ is not reporting from Wall street/ Lower Manhattan, Princeton is really nice but they belong in Manhattan. They can keep the back office stuff in Princeton but move the main WSJ operations back to Manhattan.

    BTW..

    The Princeton campus is locked up tight, cameras, security gates etc every where. It took me a while just to get into the parking lot, and they had someone escort me in a Pick-up.

  14. #14
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    Default Keeping the Vision at Ground Zero

    The president of the LMDC was just on NY1. *Hearing him talk, I got this:

    - he wouldn't comment on the land swap deal, instead referring to the city or PA. *Seemed like he was implying it was a non-issue.

    - More interestingly, relocating the signature tower from the NW corner of the site: open for discussion! *Seemed that they wanted to give the impression that all options were on the table for this.

    - Bus garages that would make the "pit" more shallow: they are looking for other locations for this.

    Pataki is definately flexing his political muscle here, albeit a flabby, weak one as I see it. *In the tone of the interview, it sounded like a more 'hands-off' approach to the buildings and a more 'hands-on' and rigid approach to the memorial.

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    Default Keeping the Vision at Ground Zero

    Customs hasn't returned Downtown either, has it?

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