In the PA director's report on delays and cost explosions at Ground Zero, he suggested that David Paterson appoint a "traffic cop" to manage all the different projects. We suspect he has someone particular in mind.
Larry Silverstein's feeling upbeat about the future, but we wonder about his grip on reality as it currently stands. Addressing a roomful of construction pros yesterday, the developer promised that the four towers he wants to build at the World Trade Center site will open by 2012 (with retail comprising “big boxes, little boxes, restaurants, and bars”) and told us later that the site would deliver “an urban experience” as walkable as Bleecker Street — “with bollards, of course.” Lovely. But Silverstein also claimed that construction inflation is starting to level off just as his architects are due to start confronting the problem of how to connect four distinct skyscrapers underground. “I was at the General Contractors Association table, and eyebrows went up when he said that,” says Rick Bell, head of the local American Institute of Architects chapter, who has visited the design studio where Silverstein's starchitects are laboring to cost out the towers' underground guts. “I didn't get any consensus on that from contractors or from architects.”
On the afternoon of September 10, 2001, Sneha Anne Philip, a physician who lived with her husband in Battery Park City, went shopping for shoes, linens, and lingerie at Century 21, directly across the street from the World Trade Center. She was never seen again.
Her family has spent much of the last five-plus years trying to prove that Dr. Philip died the following day in the World Trade Center attack — most likely a hero, running into the crumbling building to administer aid — and not one night earlier under the potentially tawdry circumstances, involving drugs, alcohol, and an unhappy marriage, that a New York State Court judge suggested three years ago. (New Yorkreported on the mystery surrounding her disappearance in June of 2006.)
This afternoon, her family won. A Manhattan appellate court ruled that Sneha Philip officially and legally died on September 11, 2001, at the World Trade Center. She is the 2,751st official victim of the World Trade Center attack.
We're no closer to knowing when the toxin-clouded former Deutsche Bank building will come down from its corner at the World Trade Center site, but we have fresh reason to look forward to the JPMorgan Chase tower that's supposed to replace it. Someone close to the process tells us that the ponderous bulge on the lower floors of the design (labeled a "beer belly" by some critics) has vanished from the plans. Early renderings indicated that the projection would hold the bank's trading floor, but it was received negatively by preservationists. The building still must negotiate a tangle of parking, security, and public spaces while offering wide, high trading floors, says our source. "Amenity floors and cafeterias and conference centers add up to different sizes," the insider explained. So some creative structuring beyond the standard straight tower model may still be required. But we have it on good authority that the architecture will be more sloping than slouching. That is, of course, if the state clears the site up before JPMorgan gets tired of waiting and starts considering other locations —Alec Appelbaum
Oh, the excitement back in January, when Freedom Tower construction finally — five-plus years after the attacks — reached the towering height of eight feet below sidewalk level. The milestone was marked by a festive "Metro" section article in the Times, explaining just where you had to stand, and just how you had to crane your neck, to get a view of this feat of construction. So it's with even greater exultation that we discovered this picture on Curbed today, which seems to indicate that construction has — are you sitting down? — actually progressed to above ground! Of course, the Curbed boys speculate what we're seeing is merely a few Portajohns. Perhaps. But, even so, hey, we'll take what we can get.
WTC Chaos Update: Something Rises Above Grade! [Curbed]
Earlier:The Freedom Tower Exists for Anyone Who Truly Believes In It
• Sure, the Feds promised Bloomberg $354 million for his traffic-reduction plan (if he can get the city and state to pass it), but that dough's mainly to put up new bus depots. Of the roughly $200 mil needed to charge drivers entering Manhattan, Uncle Sam's promised only $10 million. [NYT]
So Mayor Bloomberg finally caved in the face of the collective fit thrown by some 9/11 victim relatives, who demanded the sixth-anniversary ceremonies be held in the pit at ground zero and only there. The Port Authority will now contort to allow the mourners to, as the mayor said in a statement, "descend the ramp in a single-file stream that keeps moving into a limited area … and then to ascend back to street level." We can understand why Bloomie gave up — nobody wants to be the villain, and how bad would pissing off 9/11 widows look in, say, some sort of national campaign?
City Hall and the 9/11 families are fighting over the site of the upcoming sixth-anniversary commemoration, and the negotiations have now devolved into truly embarrassing haggling. Somehow, each concession manages to sound even more pathetic than the one before. To wit: Today's Daily News reports that Mayor Bloomberg has backed away from his initial suggestion to move the ceremonies to a nearby park (it's sort of tough to do it on ground zero itself, given that the thing is a giant construction site); he's now offering a compromise location with a view of ground zero. The families say they'll take the matter to federal court on First Amendment grounds if they have to.
• Families of 9/11 victims are upset — are the families of 9/11 victims ever not upset? — because the city plans to commemorate the attacks' sixth anniversary in the small Zuccotti park. Instead of, you know, in the middle of a giant construction site. [amNY]
A mere five years and eight months after September 11, 2001, the World Trade Center's insurers have finally agreed to pay out Larry Silverstein's claims. (And you thought the check from when your apartment was robbed took a long time to arrive!) Governor Spitzer announced a settlement yesterday between Silverstein and the seven insurance companies that tried to stiff him. So after all this wrangling, how huge is the gap between the amount Silverstein originally sought and the compromise sum? A measly $130 million — less than 3 percent of the total $4.6 billion the developer will receive. To think that this was one of the main issues slowing down the reconstruction at ground zero is, in instant retrospect, revolting. But both Silverstein and Spitzer put on gentlemanly performances yesterday; Silverstein offered a "very, very deep thank-you." Another thank-you is probably being muttered by the Port Authority, which will help itself to a chunk of the settlement as a part of its earlier deal with Silverstein. And perhaps by the rest of New York, which might one day actually see something built on the site.
WTC Insure War Is Over [NYP]