New York City, 9/11, and its aftermath

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Friday, September 11, 2009

Ground Zero

by Saul Bloodworth

Why is there still a big hole in Ground Zero? Because the people responsible for the rebuilding are lying not only to the public, but also to themselves.

Ground Zero belongs to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, i. e. the state governments, or. The towers have been leased to Larry Silverstein; and the center is, by and large, a commercial project. Hence Silverstein has the right as well as the obligation to rebuild twelve million square feet of office space in Downtown Manhattan.

After he signed the lease, Silverstein also signed a preliminary insurance agreement. Alas, he insured the actual worth of the twin towers, not the money needed to rebuild them new and sparkling. Since you can't rebuild two 30-year-old office towers that went through bankruptcy at least once for the kind of money they're worth, he dd never have enough money to begin with.

Even worse, twelve million square feet of office space are not needed in the live time or Silverstein, ever. But the Port, or rather, the Governor of New York, does not want to kick Silverstein out, because he pays them $120 million a year. Plus, if they did, he would sue them and they would be blamed for having driven away the only developer so far. The Port could ask Silverstein to change the whole project to something more residential/cultural/artsy/whatever but then he would ask them to relent on the lease.

On top of that, the City of New York made Silverstein add a whole bunch of additional staircases and elevators and extra walls, for safety reasons, thus reducing the sellable office space to, I‘m guessing here, 30 percent of the floor plate.

So, right now, Silverstein doesn't want to (or can) pay for a white elephant, and neither does the Port (even though, right now, the Port is actually financing the Freedom Fries Tower, the tower formerly supposed to have 1776 feet). However, if the project were to be changed to something more useful, everybody would make a lot less money, albeit only on paper, of course. On top of that, it's necessary to rebuild the World Trade Center to show the terrorists that they did not win. let alone the Real Estate Board of New York.

So, my guess is, they will simply do the World Trade Center all over: They will construct a gazillion square feet of office space and then go bankrupt. On the happy side, Silverstein could be dead. His office was hit during the attack, he only survived because he went to the doctor this morning.

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