For two years I have been telling people that, all the fancy graphic presentations and architects' models notwithstanding, we really have no idea of what eventually will emerge on the World Trade Center site. Things became all the more uncertain this last week when a federal jury denied Larry Silverstein, the leaseholder of the property, his request for a double insurance payout. The whole grand project, based on the original design of Studio Daniel Libeskind, was predicated on the higher payout. Here's a good piece by Julia Vitullo-Martin from the Wall Street Journal (via Two Blowhards). Vitullo-Martin writes:
the World Trade Center had never been the monument to capitalism the terrorists believed it to be. Rather, it was the product of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey's peculiar brand of government gigantism--immense office towers built on private land acquired under eminent domain, exempted from city building codes, and freed from all taxes to compete with the private sector.
The grand project has struck me all along as a potential boondoggle on the scale of, well, the World Trade Center itself. I have thought, and think, that we should let lower Manhattan seek its own level. The area is rebounding commercially as it is. It's not where it was in 2001 prior to the attacks, but it's well ahead of where it was a few years before that. The residential market down there has not only rebounded, but seems to me to be stronger than ever.
The jury decision may prove to be a blessing for lower Manhattan.
--Guest posted by Francis Morrone