The World Trade Center: Even More Downsizing Ahead

Mike Bloomberg comes out swinging in today’s WSJ, and although his main target is the bureaucracy at the Port Authority and the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, he doesn’t seem to mind if his blows land on Santiago Calatrava too:

Today, Lower Manhattan is the fastest-growing residential neighborhood in the country, bustling morning, noon and night. But the rebirth of Lower Manhattan will not be complete as long as Ground Zero remains an open wound…

We will now push the Port Authority to make two concrete commitments. Most important, the memorial must be completed by the 10th anniversary. No more excuses, no more delays. New York Gov. David Paterson and I are in complete agreement on this subject, and it’s time for the PA to formally commit to the same goal.

In addition, the PATH station’s design, including the underground hall, is too complicated to build and threatens to delay the memorial and the entire project. It must be scaled back.

We will ask Gov. Paterson to dismantle the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation and hand over its development responsibilities to the city.

Already a new, smaller 9/11 memorial pavilion has been announced; whoever’s responsible for the "new new site plan", however, still doesn’t seem to have learned that since JP Morgan bought Bear Stearns, it no longer has any need or desire to move downtown.

What’s clear is that Daniel Libeskind’s master site plan has been utterly forgotten about: right now it’s all about cutting costs ever further. Remember too that the plan was always cheap: Libeskind described his plan as "bargain basement" when he first announced it. The pavilion is by far the most Libeskindish thing at the site, although I imagine Danny is heartily sick of the whole thing by now, and can see essentially nothing of his handiwork on site.

The Freedom Tower has been an architectural disappointment from the beginning, but many of us had high hopes for the transportation hub; they must surely now be dashed.

I might as well plug my latest column in Spectator Business at this point: the headline is "From sacred space to fiasco: how the World Trade Center site became a monument to incompetence". It was written before the latest news, which only serves to reinforce its main theme. New York has signally failed its biggest and most important infrastructure project of the past seven years., and that’s a crying shame.

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