After nearly a decade cloaked in black netting and causing general health concerns due to its condition, the former Deutsche Bank Building in Lower Manhattan has been dismantled with the crane being removed from the site. The first floor and the foundation are the only parts remaining and are in the process of being removed. The building, which once stood 41-stories tall, was lanced by debris from the World Trade Center during the terrorist attacks of 2001, as it stood opposite of the WTC on Liberty Street.
9/11 wasnâ€™t the only tragic event that occurred at the site. It was further damaged in 2007 after a fire blazed through several floors and claimed the lives of two firefighters. The site is now managed by the Port Authority, which will use it as a staging area for vehicle security sweeps.
How do you feel now that this painful, visual reminder of the 9/11 terrorist attacks is no longer visible?
The Deutsche Bank Tower, which has been contaminated and shrouded in an ominous black net for nearly a decade at the Ground Zero site, has remained standing despite the hazards of its existence and long-delayed plans to take it down. The 41-story building, marred when the World Trade Centerâ€™s South Tower collapsed and tore a 15-story hole in it, will finally come fully down by the middle of the month, reports The Associated Press.
The steel framework of the building is being dismantled, to the delight of locals, as it not only allows more light but it also encourages the healing process to take another step further as a constant visual reminder of the attacks is gone, allowing the new buildings are erected. There are only two stories left of the building and the Lower Manhattan Development Corp., which oversaw the $300 million project, said that those final two stories should be gone in a week or so. January 15th was the expected completion date, but the snow storm delayed it to January 20th.
The Deutsche Bank building was initially supposed to be taken down in 2005 but the disassembly was stalled over issues regarding who would fund the process. There were arguments about whether or not the building should be razed or restored. However, the LMDC, bought the building for $90 million, cleaned it and tore it down.
How does the final dismantling of the Deutsche Bank building make you feel?
More drama abounds at Ground Zero. The Greek Archdiocese of New York is at odds with the Port Authority over its promise to rebuild St. Nicholas Church. The church, initially located at 155 Cedar Street, was destroyed by the World Trade Center debris; the new location would be 130 Liberty Street, which was once the location of the Deutsche Bank building. Despite the haggling over funds and deal points, more problems â€“this time of the engineering sort- have arisen. The New York Post reports that the steel that the Port Authority ordered for the Vehicle Screening Center that would be located beneath the church is unable to support the structure the Archdiocese wants to build, making it structurally unsound.
The VSC is a security-clearance facility for delivery trucks and will provide service to buildings at the WTC site. A lawyer for the Archdiocese argued that the PAâ€™s claims about the steel is another stalling tactic, but an engineering source said that a redesign and ordering replacement steel would costs millions and further delays.
The Port Authority and the church have been battling over the rebuilding process, with the PA accusing the church of making escalating and unreasonable demands, while the church has said the PA is misappropriating the land and interfering with their rights.
Will this church ever be rebuilt in a fashion that suits both sides?
Supervisors being charged for the deadly fire at the former Deutsche Bank building in 2007 are claiming they are being “scapegoated.”
Mitchel Alvo, Jeffrey Melofchik and Salvatore DePaola have pled not guilty to manslaughter in the fire that killed two firefighters responding to the blaze.
The three men all had roles related to the safety of the site including asbestos-removal foreman to site safety manager.
According to a report from the Associated Press, prosecutors allege that “Alvo, Melofchik and DePaola knew that a vital firefighting water pipe was broken, did nothing about it and covered it up. The disabled pipe called a standpipe, cost firefighters critical time in getting water on the flames, playing a crucial role in creating the smoky inferno that ultimately killed firefighters Robert Beddia and Joseph Graffignino.”
However, the defense team claim the men did not realize the pipe was in fact a standpipe as it had never been identified by inspectors as such before the blaze. The inoperable pipe has been blamed as instrumental in the deaths of the firefighters. Their attorneys have claimed their clients are nothing short of taking the fall for other infallible organizations on the chain, including government agencies who are immune from criminal prosecutions.
“Why are they scapegoating a few defenseless people at the bottom of the line?” Edward J.M. Little, Melofchik’s attorney questioned during the hearing.
The lawyers of the defendants are calling for a dismissal of the case for a lack of evidence, while also claiming that had the standpipe been in proper working order, “The firefighters would have died anyway.”
The trial is set for January 18 and the dismissal motion will be heard on October 21.
One could easily agree that little has been seen from the LMDC– but might also argue that the dissolution of the organization might be a heavy handed option for a community still reeling from the after effects of 9/11 nearly a decade later. Although the LMDC will not be completely shut down, the Governor is proposing cutting the organization by 85% from 35 fulltime staffers to 5.
This is cause for some concern for residents of Lower Manhattan but especially Battery Park City being that the LMDC is the owner and responsible agent for the dismantling of the former Deutsche Bank building, a behemoth skeleton of a visual reminder of how much work is left.
From its inception in 2001 from government and by then Governor George Pataki and Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, the intent of the LMDC was to “work closely with the private sector to determine a proper market-driven response to the economic and infrastructure needs of Lower Manhattan, as well as with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to identify the appropriate redevelopment of the World Trade Center site.”
According to the LMDC’s website, some of its core responsibilities include city operations, communications, community relations, construction mitigation, environmental compliance, fraud prevention, small business development and marketing. Dissolution of the LMDC could affect our community in the following ways:
1. Safety and infrastructural hazards
As if it’s not dangerous or confusing enough to cross the West Side Highway to reach the subway, how will a 5-person team be optimized to make sure that our safety is maintained during the construction at Ground Zero?Â The implementation of crossing guards in our area, although fiscally insufficient, was still a step in the right direction. With all the confusing bridge detours being built and constantly changed — who will notify us of these changes? High winds during the winter also pose a serious safety risk during construction, if the falling glass panes from Goldman Sachs’ construction site can be used as an example.
2. Dismantling of the Deutsche Bank Building
The history of the former Deutsche Bank building post 9/11 has been riddled with corruption and safety concerns. From the issues surrounding the decontamination of the building to the safety of the workers dismantling the building, who will be accountable if something goes wrong? According to the LMDC, concerned residents can call a hotline to report incidents at the site as to avoid what happened on August 18, 2007 when a fire spread through the site killing 2 firefighters.
3. Environmental Compliance
The progress reports that are issued by the LMDC are important for our community as the demolition affects the health of the air we breathe during its decontamination. Although most of us probably haven’t even seen one of these reports — it’s important that they be maintained in order for us to be aware of the hazards that might exist during the demolition.
4. Small Business Development
The lack of business real estate means the lack of foot traffic of businessmen and women, which translates into the decimation of small businesses in our area. As we roll into our 9th year of waiting for the rebuilding of the World Trade Center site — who will help the small businesses that residents rely on in this underserved area? Although disbursements of small business grants have been slow from the LMDC — there is still almost $800 Million dollars of yet to be disbursed funds. These funds were meant for the development of Lower Manhattan distributed through the LMDC. When the governor dissolves the LMDC, what will happen to that funding?
These are four compelling reasons as to reconsider dissolving the LMDC. If the organization needs less ineptitude and better people to run it — why restructure and re-organize the LMDC instead? There must be a better option for the betterment of a still embattled Lower Manhattan.
Regional Scaffolding and Hoisting Company, a contractor that was the focus of a criminal investigation into a 2007 fire at the Deutsche Bank building that resulted in the death of two firefighters (AND that remains under scrutiny for financial irregularities), is set to return to Ground Zero to work on the office tower at 4 World Trade Center.
According to The New York Times, documents filed with the city show that Regional Scaffolding was issued a permit two weeks ago to install a construction elevator at 4 WTC. And, yes, that means exactly what you think: A company being eyed for criminal negligence and fiscal shadiness has been rewarded with a prime gig at the office tower developer Larry A. Silverstein is constructing at the World Trade Center site.