Spitzer, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate, says he's concerned that the Freedom Tower planned for the World Trade Center site may wind up being a building with no tenants. On NY1's "Inside City Hall" Friday night, Spitzer gave his most extensive comments yet about the rebuilding effort in Lower Manhattan.
He said that if elected governor, he'd move quickly to resolve any unresolved issues about who builds what. But he said the Freedom Tower could end up dragging down the rest of the project.
"I certainly think there's a very serious question about the economic viability of the Freedom Tower," Spitzer said of the new site's centerpiece. "I think, given the situation with number 7 WTC, which is sitting there essentially vacant, the prospect that the Freedom Tower would be built and would sit there vacant as essentially a white elephant that would sap the cash available to build the other buildings, is something that is very problematic."
To be fair Spitzer is echoing a real concern that a new tall building will attract a terrorist attack, and I think America as a whole is smarting for the "Bring it on!" mindset due to Iraq. But I think we should keep the following in mind:
1. If the terrorists are going to attack NYC again they can always attack the Empire State building if we don;t build Freedom Tower.
2. If the terrorists attack again it doesn't mean that they will crash another aircraft into a tall building. In fact if you look at the attacks in London and Madrid you could say that mass transit is more at risk. It's hard to get into the mind of a terrorist, but if anything they will attack in a setting that you wouldn't expect them to attack.
3. It's going to take at least 5 to 10 years to build Freedom Tower, that means we won't have anything up in the sky until 2011 or even 2016. I have a feeling that by the next decade the world may look a bit different. For all we know we may even go back to worrying about the Russians at that point. Yes I think 9/11 changed everything, but if it has taught me anything it's that you can expect things to change even more.
4. How about setting an example? I think the federal government should take the lead and show NYC that it's doing a better job with homeland security by putting as many federal agencies into that building. I think the Bush administration should be called to take the lead by putting the Dept. of Homeland Security into Freedom Tower, and that Democrats should be asking the "tough on security" Republicans to do this. In business this is known as "eating your own dogfood" and it's not a bad idea.
5. NYC needs more space. If the economy of NYC is to grow we need more office space for the future. There will come a time within the next 10 years that our economy will boom again, and having office space is important to keeping jobs in NYC. Already the private housing boom has sent many businesses outside of Manhattan. In fact a good engine for the economy might be to use some of the space in Freedom Tower as an incubator space to encourage and grow new companies.