Greeter Bob Gelber knows all the right people – people with the inside scoop about New York City.
For a visit to 7 World Trade Center, Bob chose Mike Marcucci, personal filmmaker to real estate developer, Larry Silverstein. Mike’s critically acclaimed documentary, “16 Acres”, chronicles the rebuilding of Ground Zero during the ten years after 9/11.
And Mike’s knowledge of #7 was voluminous. He spoke of Larry Silverstein’s determination and resilience in the face of impossible odds. In 1980, Silverstein bought the original 7 World Trade Center with a 99-year lease. On 9/11/01, the building burned to the ground leaving Mr. Silverstein with a monthly rent of $10,000,000 to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey!
Mr. Silverstein could have retired – he was 70 years old at the time. But he chose to rebuild, listening when his wife said, “You won’t be happy not doing what you love.” His wife also saved his life by insisting he keep a doctor’s appointment instead of attending a Twin Tower meeting the morning of 9/11.
We learned #7 is one of the safest office buildings in the world. In 2002, Mr. Silverstein hired Daniel Libeskind as his master planner architect, and together they agreed to learn from the mistakes of the fallen towers – with reinforced concrete core and base, wider stairways, and thicker fireproofing of steel columns.
Mr. Silverstein spent over two billion dollars of his own money to rebuild – and although he had no tenants, he had a tenacious philosophy: “I won’t turn my back on New York.” The building was finished in 2006 and 100% leased by 2011.
We saw majestic views from the windows, models of the new buildings, and pictures of Larry Silverstein whose life force seemed to jump out of the frames. According to Mike, “Larry is 86 years old, but he has a child’s energy. He’s deeply involved in every project, including #3, opening in June, and #6, a possible performing arts center.”
Within five years, what was once an 80-foot crater will be filled with new buildings. The grace and strength of these structures are a fitting tribute to those who died – a way of promising them
“We will honor and remember you always.”