LACK OF PROGRESS AT GROUND ZERO IS "A NATIONAL DISGRACE" SAYS SITE DEVELOPER LARRY SILVERSTEIN -- "60 MINUTES" SUNDAY
Eight Years and Billions of Dollars Later, Part of 9/11 Site is Still Just a Big Hole
Ground Zero developer Larry Silverstein calls the failure to get anything finished on the site of the 9/11 attack in over eight years "a national disgrace." The frustrated real estate mogul speaks out in a Scott Pelley report examining the problems that continue to plague the project. It will be broadcast on 60 MINUTES, Sunday, Feb. 21 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
Asked to comment on the current situation at the former site of the World Trade Center, Silverstein answers, "I describe this as a national disgrace. I am the most frustrated person in the world," he tells Pelley. "It's hard to contemplate the amount of time that's gone by here, the tragic waste of time and what could have been instead of what is today." Watch an excerpt.
Since Sept. 11, 2001, when 2,752 people died in the terrorist attack that brought down the Twin Towers and caused the destruction of other nearby buildings, plans for several new structures and a memorial have grown and contracted, construction has started and stopped. By the 10th anniversary of the attack, nearly $7 billion will have been spent but nothing completed. Some of the factors holding things up include changing architects, lawsuits, and security concerns, like a false start on the tallest building that police said was too vulnerable to a truck bomb attack. The recession lowering the demand for any potential office space at the project has also been a factor.
The property is under the control of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Its new executive director, Chris Ward, explains some of the delays have to do with the fact that the site contains many separate projects, all intermingled. "This is like a game of pick-up stick down here. Every single part of this project touches another piece," says Ward. "It's probably one of the most complex construction sites in the whole world."
Silverstein says the delays are largely the result of bureaucracy. "There's no accountability," says Silverstein, "and when they see they're missing a date, they publish a new date and say �we're on schedule.'"
Ward, the fourth Port Authority executive director to work on the project, was asked about dates for some of the planned structures. While one of his projections, for the proposed Number One World Trade Center, was 2013, his answer for many others was "Completion date uncertain at this time...What I can tell you is that downtown will come back."
Silverstein wonders when. "If you continue going at the rate we're going, these buildings might not be finished until the Port's schedules, which is 2037," says Silverstein. "Now, I'm 78 years of age. I want to see this thing done in my lifetime," he tells Pelley.