Sunday, September 11, 2005

September 11 rebuilding update.

My children saw the twin towers fall, and they saw the tribute in light.

I can only hope that they will live long enough to see the new towers rise, what with the way the politicians are bolluxing up the rebuilding.

At this point rebuilding is five years behind schedule and counting. Only three days ago they finally began pulling down the Deutsche Bank tower -- four years after it was destroyed beyond salvage in the attacks. It's been a standing ruin on the south side of the Ground Zero pit all the time since, with the politicians, lawyers, environmentalists and community activists unable to agree even on how to tear it down, much less replace it...

Update and Correction: My mistake! It was merely announced that the plan now is to take down the Deutsche tower next spring, 2006. It and Fetterman Hall, which also still stands four years after, as a ruined "grotesque eyesore", next to what is supposed to become the new 7 WTC. Although as to whether that timetable will be met ... who knows?

Steve Cuozzo, who's done the best job covering this story in the local news media, for the NY Post, relates the current sorry state of affairs. And Nicole Gelinas of the Manhattan Institute tells of the billions of dollars these years of delay have cost in rising building costs, financing costs, and lost business.

Meanwhile, the New York Times continues its relentless campaign against the plan to rebuild the Trade Center in a fourth anniversary story, using arguments ranging from political correctness...

... the promise that culture would play a life-affirming role [at the rebuilt WTC] has proved false now that Gov. George E. Pataki has warned that freedom of expression at ground zero will be strictly controlled. ("We will not tolerate anything on that site that denigrates America, denigrates New York or freedom, or denigrates the sacrifice and courage that the heroes showed on Sept. 11," he has said.)
(The Times of course thinks we should tolerate statements that denigrate America, New York, freedom, and the sacrifices of September 11 on the site of those sacrifices.)

... to a remarkably hypocritical and devious defense of the Times' own mercantile self-interest...

[Rebuilding is] justified by those who believe that any development at ground zero is good for the city's economy. If the 10 million square feet of commercial space at ground zero is not rebuilt, the thinking goes, our fragile confidence will be erased, and the terrorists will have won.

But commercial space is not what is needed at ground zero. The city is building at a frenetic pace. There are plans to transform a strip along 10th Avenue into a canyon of corporate skyscrapers with 24 million square feet of office space. More office development is percolating at the West Side Hudson Yards and the former Con Edison site overlooking the East River.

The abundance of new development in the city was a bargain chip for Goldman Sachs when it struck its recent deal with the city to stay downtown. When it threatened to abandon a site just across the street from the proposed Freedom Tower for another one in Midtown, the city was forced to cough up hundreds of millions of dollars in incentives and over $1.6 billion in federally backed Liberty bonds.

This kind of back scratching is likely to become the norm downtown...
What's devious about this "excess new development" argument is that the Times itself is the owner of a major new 52-story office complex being constructed in midtown -- a fact our 'paper of record' never manages to get into the record as it repeats this argument over and over.

This means the Times is in direct financial competition with the proposed rebuilt World Trade Center. So of course the Sulzberger family doesn't want all that office space that was lost downtown being rebuilt -- what landlord wants competition that will reduce the rents he can charge?

What's hypocritical is that the Times' new midtown building is being built -- prepare for a shock! -- with many millions of dollars worth of government assistance in the form of eminent domain proceedings that evicted dozens of going businesses from the midtown block the Times wanted, and $170 million in tax subsidies, all of which the Times extracted from local government by threatening to relocate its operations to New Jersey. (As was noted in some detail here previously, and with more amusement before that.)

So the kind of "back scratching" that the Times fears will become the norm downtown seems already pretty well established in midtown.

Hey ... where is Robert Moses when you need him? Back in his day the Empire State Building was completed in one year and 45 days, total.