JPMorgan Chase Profits Fall 53 PercentBut they did better than analysts predicted. That, plus the latest on Hamptons real-estate prices, Condé Nast’s upper echelons, and the “You go girl!” spinner, in our daily industry roundup.
Wait, How Does Larry Silverstein Think These WTC Towers Will Get Built?
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.”
in other news
For the Family of Sneha Anne Philip, Closure
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 York reported 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.
JPMorgan Chase Tower at WTC Site to Lose the Beer GutWe’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
Freedom Tower Peeks Over Ground-Zero Sidewalks?
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
the morning line
• 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]
in other news
Bloomberg Caves to 9/11 Families
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?
9/11 Commemoration: Five Is Enough?
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.
the morning line
Behold the Power of Crumbling Infrastructure
• 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]
WTC Insurers Agree to Pay, Only Five-Plus Years Later
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]
Giuliani Blames Aide for Poor Emergency Planning
Republican presidential front-runner Rudy Giuliani whose campaign is based on his reputation as “America’s Mayor,” the hero of 9/11 is famous for a lot of things. Letting bygones be bygones is not one of them.
Thus Giuliani is blaming an old aide turned adversary Jerry Hauer, the city’s first director of the Office of Emergency Management, for the much-criticized decision to locate the emergency command center at 7 World Trade Center instead of a site in Brooklyn. After terrorists flew planes into the Twin Towers, 7 WTC burned and collapsed, and the 23rd-floor command center was rendered useless.
“Jerry Hauer recommended that as the prime site and the site that would make the most sense,” Giuliani claimed this week on Fox News Sunday. “He recommended that site as the site that would be the best site. It was largely on his recommendation that that site was selected.”
Once More Into the Service Road — and Into West Street, TooIn 2002, with the “primary cleanup” of ground zero barely over, the city quickly built and paved a service road connecting the World Trade Center site to West Street. Only gradually, and without much help from the media, it is becoming clear exactly how massive a screwup it was. Since Mayor Bloomberg reordered the search for human remains last October, medical examiners freed 445 “potential” body parts from beneath the road. Finally, after months and months of new grisly discoveries, the city is facing the obvious: A new, large-scale excavation is in order.
Still With the Names?
Of all the delays, scuffles, and tantrums besetting the ground-zero reconstruction effort, none is as fundamentally embarrassing as the general inability to settle on the order of names for the 9/11 memorial. Last we checked, the families of first responders demanded that the cops and firefighters be separated from the “regular” victims, and the original random placement gave way to a bizarre system wherein civilians would be grouped by employer, without naming the employer. Mayor Bloomberg, who chairs the WTC Memorial Foundation, has long been saying he considers the matter closed; that’s why a recent Spitzer remark suggesting “future discussions” threatened to start the whole ordeal anew. But today some good news: The governor and the mayor had a nice long talk yesterday, and they got their positions in sync. Spitzer now says he subscribes to the foundation’s plan. One would think that would be the last hurdle, but no. Some “family and firefighter groups” are still lobbying for the inclusion of victims’ ages and ranks. Yes, let’s introduce rank into this equation, shall we?
Mayor Says Spitzer Now Agrees With Him on Listing of 9/11 Names [NYT]
Earlier: 9/11 Name Fight Drags On
the morning line
Wanna Buy the Freedom Tower?
• Guess what Port Authority is going to do with the Freedom Tower once the construction is over? What every owner of a half-built property dreams of doing: Flip it. By its completion in 2011, the skyscraper may be up for sale, say Spitzer and Corzine. [Metro]
• Meet Mathieu Eugene, the City Council’s newest member and the first Haitian to fill the seat. Eugene won a low-profile, low-turnout special election in Brooklyn after his predecessor, Yvette Clarke, moved on to Congress. [NYP]
• Busta Rhymes, on trial for kicking a fan and beating up a former chauffeur, rejected a deal that would land him in jail for a cred-building six months. The alternative: probation, anger management, and two weeks of lecturing kids about violence. [NYDN]
• In New York, we wage our war on Christmas all year round — and we’re winning it, too. The U.S. Supreme Court washed its hands of the Brooklyn-filed case that challenged the citywide ban on school nativity displays. (Menorahs and Islamic crescents, however, are totally okay). [FoxNews.com]
• And in New Jersey, a similar battle with a techie twist: A public-school history teacher is in hot water after a student taped him proselytizing (“If you reject [Jesus], you belong in hell,” etc.) and saying that dinosaurs were on Noah’s ark. [NYT]
Now Calatrava’s Transit Hub, Too, Isn’t Quite Working Out as PlannedWe’ve always been partial to Santiago Calatrava’s World Trade Center transit hub; the building, a kind of spiny origami piece with movable wings, is the most genuinely exciting structure on the site. It’s also the only one that, for a long time, seemed to be getting anywhere. So it’s with a heavy heart that we report the following: The damn thing is suddenly a billion dollars over budget. The projected cost for the hub is now a jaw-dropping $3.4 billion. (And that’s the kind of money, as we learned today, that will buy you about 120 apartment towers in Brooklyn.) The contractors are embarking on a “major value engineering effort” to steer the project back to its original $2.2 billion price-tag. We think we know what that means — dumbed-down form and Plan-B materials — although the builders swear the “overall integrity of the design” will be intact. Screw integrity. Give us the movable wings.
$3.4B For WTC Hub a Rail Shock [NYP]
Brits Beat Us to 9/11 Memorial
Believe it or not, you’ll actually be able to visit a 9/11 memorial in lower Manhattan this summer. But, naturally, it’s not ours, of course (don’t be silly). The British Memorial Garden at Hanover Square is nearly finished; it’s just awaiting a planting ceremony — complete with 65 singing Welsh children — scheduled for March 1 (a mere 22 months after construction began). Tonight, the “Anglo-American community” will gather at Cipriani 42nd Street to toast the near-completion. So how’d it get done so quickly? Garden president Camilla Hellman diplomatically praises the U.S. Embassy in London and the city’s Parks Department, which helped find the sloping site. We credit stiff upper lips. “We never tried to list all the victims’ names,” says Hellman. Instead, a fence line and finials represent the 67 British 9/11 victims, stone from the Isles reflects heritage, and the garden explores the entirety of Atlantic-alliance history. “I thought about families going to ground zero as a harrowing experience, and wanted them to come to Hanover Square and understand New York a bit better,” says Hellman. One way to understand New York: Visitors to the Garden will be able to look uphill at that recently opened beacon of freedom towering over it, William Beaver House. —Alec Appelbaum
The Freedom Tower Exists for Anyone Who Truly Believes in It
How starved is the city for any tangible progress at ground zero? Well, consider this bit from today’s Times:
Stand on Vesey Street, between Greenwich and Washington Streets. Look through the chain-link fences and over the Jersey barriers. The tops of six columns of the tower’s south perimeter are now visible, sprouting from the depths of ground zero. A seventh column, standing alone nearby, is where the Freedom Tower’s east plaza will be …
They are visible from the sidewalk now because a second tier of steel has been added to each column, bringing them up to about 8 feet below street level.
That’s right, reporter David Dunlap gives you step-by-step instructions on where to stand, which way to face, and how hard to squint to see the thicket of steel that will eventually become the foundation for the Freedom Tower. Imagine the corks that will pop when the construction actually reaches sidewalk level.
What a View to Behold, and It’s Really Something [NYT]
the morning line
One Day, Everything Will Be Named for the ‘Daily Show’ Host
• The Post has “Mob scion” Chris Colombo on tape waxing nostalgic about the days of former New York A.G. Dennis Vacco: “Spitzer is the worst. Vacco was the best. He didn’t care about anything. I had a hook in him.” Oh, the election ad that would have made. [NYP]
• So there’s JFK, La Guardia, Newark and … Stewart? With the Spitz’s blessing, the Port Authority is about to buy an underused airport 60 miles north of the city and turn it into the region’s fourth international hub. Pataki, apparently, hated the idea. [NYT]
• We suppose it was inevitable: The issue of how to list the names of WTC victims on the 9/11 memorial — alphabetically, at random, in weird associative clusters — is now fodder for hysterical TV ads running on NY1. [amNY]
• So there’s this $140 million police-radio system the MTA had been installing in the subways for ten years. It’s done, but the cops won’t use it: Everything sounds “as if you’re talking through a glass of water.” A $140 million glass of water. [NYT]
• And the Daily News somehow “learned,” unprompted by any recent developments, that Thor Equities is planning to redevelop Coney Island as a “glitzy playground” — a plan in the works for years. Let’s not tell the paper about the whole WTC memorial thing; it might upset them. [NYDN]