The ultimate monument to moving on âÂ or a misguided attempt at reparations?
Survivors and first responders devastated by the 9/11 terrorist attacks are divided over news that they can apply for “affordable” apartments in a ritzy new building just steps from Ground Zero.
The 900-foot skyscraper, 5 World Trade Center, will be constructed at the corner of Greenwich and Albany streets in lower Manhattan and is set to feature 1,200 plush apartments â and haunting views overlooking the site where more than 2,900 New Yorkers were murdered.
As part of a new agreement brokered by Gov. Kathy Hochul, 80 of the building’s required 400 rent-stabilized units will be set aside for New Yorkers directly impacted by the attacks â but some survivors are baffled by the deal.
“I think it’s weird,” Marian Fontana bluntly told The Post. Her firefighter husband, David, was killed on 9/11, which also happened to be their eighth wedding anniversary.
The author, who lives in Brooklyn, bemoaned the lack of affordable housing in the Big Apple but has no plans to apply for one of the apartments.
“Would anyone want to live on the crash site where their loved one died?” Fontana, 57, asked. “I don’t want to even drive past there.”
Online, others have expressed exasperation about the announcement after renderings of the skyscraper showed that it looked directly onto the 9/11 memorial pools at Ground Zero.
“Why would someone who went through a horrific experience and survived want to now live in that exact location?” one perturbed pundit pondered, while another declared: “Honestly wouldnât want to live there if my loved one perished in that attack. Bad memories.”
‘My heart is down there. I don’t find it morbid â 9/11 is my whole life. I didn’t have kids, I didn’t get married â¦ To be able to get a reasonably priced rental down there would enable me to do other things.”
Households of three with an annual income between $50,840 and $152,520 will be eligible to apply for one of the 400 rent-stabilized apartments at 5 WTC -â with rents ranging from $1,271 to $3,813 a month.
However, it’s unclear whether those figures will also apply to the 9/11 survivors and first responders eligible for one of the 80 apartments set aside for them.
It also remains to be seen whether survivors and first responders will be chosen via a random lottery or whether their applications will be assessed by a team.
The Post has reached out to Gov. Hochul’s office for further information.
Brookfield Properties and Silverstein Properties are developing 5 WTC, with completion still several years away.
When asked about the application process for 9/11 survivors and first responders, both companies told The Post in a statement: “The specifics of the program are to be worked out with the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal.”
“There are a lot of questions,” Rachel Uchitel told The Post of the still murky application process.
The podcaster â who hosts Miss Understood with Rachel Uchitel â lost her fiancÃ©, Andy O’Grady, in the attacks and said the trauma still lives on almost 22 years later.
“What do they mean by survivors?” Uchitel, 48, asked, admitting confusion about who could qualify for the plush pads. “Do they mean someone who was actually in the building? Or someone who lost a loved one and has never been able to get their act together?”
Fontana concurred, saying: “So many people are affected [by 9/11] that it could become contentious.”
John Feal, a 9/11 responder whose foot was partially amputated after being crushed by an 8,000-pound piece of steel at Ground Zero, also admitted that the application process could become acrimonious.
“When you put a number or a label on it, it starts to exclude,” Feal, 56, told The Post.
Tim Brown, a former FDNY firefighter who ran into the Twin Towers to save people on Sept. 11, also admitted that “the devil is in the details” and said kinks may need to be ironed out by officials.
However, he wholeheartedly welcomes the announcement and may apply for one of the 80 affordable apartments.
“It really made me grateful that people actually thought of us,” Brown, 61, told The Post, adding that he’s been compelled to spend ample time at Ground Zero, despite the fact that he lost around 100 firefighter friends.
Brown, who has retired from the FDNY, now volunteers at the 9/11 Museum and hangs with friends at O’Hara’s â a pub popular with first responders past and present.
“I don’t think most people with my history react the way I react,” he admitted, saying most people impacted by 9/11 would be too traumatized to consider applying to live in 5 WTC. “A lot of the guys and the families I know don’t go back down there. It’s hard and painful, and understandably so. I reacted differently.”
Brown, a Manhattan native who lives in Midtown, said a move downtown could be life-changing.
“My heart is down there. I don’t find it morbid,” he told The Post, praising officials for doing a “wonderful job” in rebuilding the area around Ground Zero.
“Yes, 9/11 is my whole life,” Brown â who was 38 at the time of the attacks â said. “I didn’t have kids, I didn’t get married … To be able to get a reasonably priced rental down there would enable me to do other things that I’d like to do.”
Meanwhile, Feal â who, along with comedian and political commentator Jon Stewart, has pushed to make permanent the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund â praised the decision to extend the affordable apartments to 9/11 survivors and first responders at 5 WTC, saying many had been pushed out of the city by soaring rents.
However, he encouraged officials to go further and create many more rent-stabilized options for the heroes still traumatized by the terrorist attacks.
“Anybody who risked their life should be entitled to affordable housing and not worried about putting food on the table,” he told The Post.
But while the 9/11 survivors and first responders may be divided on whether they’d ever live at the site of their trauma, they are all still united in their grief as the 22nd anniversary of that fateful day fast approaches.
“The trauma never goes away,” Uchitel told The Post. “It’s something that’s in my bones. It’s a part of me.”
Fontana feels the same.
“It doesn’t feel like 22 years at all,” she mournfully stated. “Of course, you get up and you keep going. But you miss them all the time. You learn to live with it â but you never get over it.”
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