Soldiering On

Every hard hat in town seems to be at ground zero, the Dow’s wavering, and the country’s at war. But the city’s residential developers have nearly every big construction project back under way.

“On September 11, we shut the job down, and most of the workers on the project went down to the site to see if they could do anything,” says Bruce L. Warwick, president and COO of the developers behind the AOL Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle (pictured). “But we got back to work the following Monday.”

Fears of delays – based on concern that the Trade Center dig would use all the machinery and every able body in town – have been eased. “The diversion of workers was a temporary thing, because everyone volunteered,” explains Richard T. Anderson, president of the New York Building Congress. “But then the cleanup became more focused. You don’t need bricklayers down there. You don’t need plumbers and electricians.” Still in heavy demand are ironworkers, but they’re flooding into town from all over the continent.

“Everybody was very concerned that first week,” says Costas Kondylis, designer of the Grand Beekman luxury condo, due to be completed in the fall of 2002. “Nobody knew what this would mean. But things slowly went back to normal. They’re pouring foundations as we speak.”

In fact, the problems have been more about materials than about labor. “We had difficulty getting steel to the job, first getting it over the Canadian border and then into the city,” says Warwick. Bridge and tunnel closings and checkpoints caused trouble for concrete workers – the stuff was starting to set before it reached the jobs.

But getting back to work doesn’t necessarily mean moving on for the thousands of workers who streamed to ground zero on September 11. “They still want to go back down there and help,” says Bob Walsh, business agent for the Local 40 Structural Iron Workers Union. “They feel like a chunk was taken out of them. Quite a few of the fellows helped put those buildings up. You hate to see something you’ve built taken down like that.”

Soldiering On