To look out the windows from the 10th floor of Larry Silverstein’s shiny new 7 World Trade Center is to take visual stock of how far Lower Manhattan has come since Sept. 11, 2001. There’s the already-skyscraping 1 World Trade Center to the right, Towers 3 and 4 rising to the left, the soon-to-open memorial plaza below, and the new W Downtown staring back from across the construction site. A few blocks to both the east and west, Lower Manhattan now houses more residents than it has ever before seen, and still more are moving in — in droves. And soon, of course, Condé Nast will arrive, and with it, as is presumed to be the case, so will the neighborhood.
So this morning, when some of the most important architects of this turnaround convened to celebrate “The New Downtown,” alongside the NYU Schack Institute of Real Estate and Silverstein Properties, there was a natural, and deserved, optimism in their voices (see photos above). But there was also an unmistakable air of exasperation, as if to say, what else can we possibly do to get major retailers and restaurateurs to take notice? … [more]