Thursday, September 8, 2011

Praise Flows at World Trade Center Site

Officials take stock of complex rising from the ruins, including the office towers and memorial with its dramatic waterfalls and mini forest, and pay tribute for jobs well done.

On the cusp of the World Trade Center site opening to visitors for the first time since the attacks of Sept. 11, there is already much to see. All told, 225 trees have been planted at the memorial, the site's signature skyscraper reaches 80 stories into the sky and another rising tower stands at 40 stories.

On Sunday, a ceremony marking the tenth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks will dedicate the memorial, which features two pools with waterfalls in the footprints of the old twin towers. President Barak Obama, Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey and Mayor Michael Bloomberg will speak at the ceremony, as will those who held those positions on that fateful day a decade earlier.

“It promises to be a moment to reflect…to remember… and to rededicate ourselves to the values and freedoms that made New York a target for evil,” said Mayor Bloomberg, while speaking at a press conference overlooking the site. “It also inevitably will be a moment to take stock of how far our city has come since that terrible morning.”

Among other accomplishments, he noted there are now more businesses operating in lower Manhattan than there were on Sept. 10, 2001 and there are more people living in the neighborhood than at any time since 1920.

Most of the praise was for the site itself. The mayor, who is chairman of the 9/11 Memorial & Museum said that $400 million has been raised for the project from contributors from all 50 states and 41 countries. He reiterated the museum would open next year and said he hoped federal aid to keep the entrance fee reasonable.

Mr. Bloomberg also said that work may start on a planned arts center by 2015 but there is still no design or fundraising initiative for the building, which is being designed by Frank Gehry.

But the towers are rising. One of three towers being constructed by Silverstein Properties is already 40 stories and will be 65 floors upon its completion, which is slated for 2013. Meanwhile, 1 World Trade Center is also scheduled to be completed in 2013 and will stand at 104 stories when it is finished. That signature tower, which is owned by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, cemented its place as a premier business address when publisher Condé Nast agreed to lease one million square feet there.

This is all happening because New Yorkers refused to give up,” said Silverstein CEO Larry Silverstein at a press conference downtown. “New Yorkers believed that we could and would create a World Trade Center in the heart of a new downtown that is even better than before.”

By Theresa Agovino
Crain's New York Business