Ground Zero Becomes Boring
"Tourists still flock to the World Trade Center site, almost seven years after the attacks of September 11. What they find when they get there is not a scene of destruction but a busy construction site. While I'm grateful to see Ground Zero filling up with fresh concrete and steel, there's something about the utter normalcy of the scene that makes me long for that heady period in 2003 and 2004 when the planning process for the site, a grand public pageant bursting with visionary zeal, promised to generate a place brave and powerful enough to heal the city's wounds. But as the concrete hardens, I can almost see the banality setting in.
The only person speaking with any frequency these days about his "vision" for the site is its developer, Larry Silverstein. Lately, he's been giving what amounts to a stump speech, promoting the vitality of Lower Manhattan and touting his revised schedule. "The buildings will reach street level approximately one year after the start of construction, and Towers 3 and 4 will top out in mid-2010, with Tower 2 following in 2011," Silverstein told the Downtown Association in April. "Can you count on this schedule? You bet."
So Silverstein, once thought to be the site's weak link, is now its master builder. His deal with retail developer Westfield, which for a time was off, is back on so the towers' lower floors will be lined with 500,000 square feet of shopping and dining. The latest renderings released by Silverstein Properties show four gleaming skyscrapers (including the Freedom Tower, now being developed by the Port Authority) flanking the eight-acre memorial."