2006_05_7wtckoons.jpgWith the rest of the World Trade Center redevelopment mired in a bureaucratic morass, the opening of 7 World Trade Center was greeted with joy, excitement, and yes, even praise for beleagured developer Larry Silverstein for actually building something. The festive opening ceremonies lacked Governor Pataki and Mayor Bloomberg, who had "other commitments," giving center stage to Silverstein who said, "We've come a very long way. What you're looking at today is just the beginning." And a whimsical Jeff Koons sculpture, Balloon Flower (Red), was unveiled in the middle of the park outside 7WTC, and tthe sculpture is supposed to change color with the light - we can't wait to take a look up close ourselves.

A NY Post editorial calls Silverstein a "patriot" for risking his "money, time and energy" to build 7WTC and work on WTC redevelopment. However, 7 WTC is only 18% leased (Silverstein's company moved to the 38th floor), with Con Ed's Lower Manhattan substation taking up 10 floors. The NY Times' David Dunlap compares the opening of 7 WTC with Fiterman Hall across the street, a Borough of Manhattan Community College building that has been shrouded awaiting decontamination-demolition plans, likening Fiterman Hall to "he unwanted party guest that everyone notices but no one acknowledges."

In other news, Republican gubernatorial hopeful William Weld hates the WTC Memorial design. Gothamist hates to think what will happen to the Memorial process after this year's elections, but we suppose it can't get any worse...can it? And the WTC Memorial's head, Gretchen Dykstra, will be touring the U.S. for more support and, hopefully, money for the project.

Close-up of Balloon Flower (Red) from MrMet388 on Flickr