Steel for the 105-story One World Trade Center, formerly known as the Freedom Tower, is erected to the 36th floor. The 54 "Santiago Calatrava arches" of the 800,000-sq-ft Transportation Hub, informally known as the PATH station, have been installed to form the Hub Connector. Steel is erected to the fourth floor of the eventual 975-ft-tall Tower 4. And the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum is on course to open on the tenth anniversary of the terrorist attacks that rocked New York City and the world nine years ago, killing nearly 3,000 people and robbing all Americans of their innocence.
Progress at "Ground Zero" was celebrated yesterday in a packed room on the 10th floor of the four-year-old replacement for Seven World Trade Center—the only ravaged WTC building "rebuilt" to date. Most of the politicos and major movers responsible for the reconstruction were in attendance and they were all smiles. Their big news, though, was not really what has already been built or is under way. Their big message is that, finally, after nine years of warring, everyone is playing well together in the giant sandbox-fishbowl, especially developer Larry Silverstein, which had leased the original WTC complex six weeks before the terrorist attacks, and his landlord, the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, which owns the site.
"Silverstein Properties and the Port Authority are standing together with a common goal of shifting World Trade Center rebuilding into overdrive," said Sheldon Silver, New York State's Assembly speaker whose district abuts the WTC site.
"From the beginning, we did not have all the stakeholders on board," he added. "Finally, we have the full contingent of leaders [in] partnership."
The new-found camaraderie is recent and the consequence of a plan, approved by the port late last month, that supposedly ensures the redevelopment of the east part of the site. It's informally called the $100-million Silverstein plan. It calls for the immediate restoration of the east to at least street level, the phase-in of the site's office towers with financing risk shared among all stakeholders and the completion of the WTC Transportation Hub without significant additional cost or delay.
The city brokered the agreement, which broke a stalemate. "Nothing happens in a democracy as quickly as we would like but democracy does get you to the right place," said New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who serves as chairman of the memorial and museum.
"Nine years is not unreasonable for something complex politically, financially" and from an engineering standpoint, he said. "New York deserves to see this hole in the heart of our city healed."
At the press conference, the port authority was just about waving a letter of intent from Conde Nast to lease 1 million sq ft of space in One World Trade Center. "Though we have had delays and unfortunately have had conflicts of opinion, we are on the road to a great success," said New York's Gov. David Paterson.
Larry Silverstein added: "In five years, it will all be done."
More on WTC progress is online.