WTC site more than just buildings

Here’s why we should care.

Tower 3 stands on the World Trade Center site like a squat also-ran in a field of giants, capped for months at eight stories while developer Larry Silverstein scrambles for money to raise it to a full 80 floors. But suddenly, things are looking up, and that’s great news.

After intense negotiations, the Port Authority, which owns the site, has agreed to let Silverstein use $159 million in 9/11 insurance proceeds to jump-start construction.

That’s a far better deal for the public than the original proposal — asking the agency to guarantee the full $1.2 billion Silverstein needs to finish the building. The developer will now seek the rest of the cash from private lenders.

And if all goes well, most of the key components of the WTC reconstruction should soon be in place.

Here’s why we should care:

No. 1. The reconstruction isn’t just about showing the world our resilience and resolve. It’s also about continuing to rebuild the economic engine we lost on 9/11. When the Twin Towers went down, lower Manhattan lost 65,000 jobs and 14 million square feet of commercial space — in addition to a death toll of nearly 3,000. The rebuild will help bring the city to its full economic potential at last.

No. 2. While location is one key to success in real estate, luck is another. The WTC is coming on line with millions of square feet of commercial space just as many firms are looking for state-of-the-art, environmentally smart digs. That’s why the lower Manhattan real estate market has started to boom, and it’s why 3 WTC is a decent bet.

No. 3. A fully realized WTC should avoid many design mistakes of the past — including the barren, windswept plaza that separated the Twin Towers and the sprawling superblock that isolated too many downtown communities. The new WTC should be a centerpiece that pulls together lower Manhattan. This depends on security that’s tight but not stifling and on a complex that attracts a massive mix of workers, shoppers and tourists. The 78-story 4 WTC opened late last year, the 104-story 1 WTC opens this year and now 3 WTC is on track to open in 2018.

They aren’t just buildings.

The Editorial Board