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Maikish: we shall succeed.

In an emotionally charged speech to a rapt Building Owner's and Manager's Association luncheon meeting, World Trade Center director Charlie Maikish related the series of events that occurred following the terrorist blast during another, unforgettable lunch hour.

At 12:18 on Feb. 26, that considered itself secure, Maikish recalled, got a wake-up call in the form of a three-quarter-ton bomb.

"The building industry was literally in a hole by accusations being leveled against us," he remembered.

At that time, both the regular electrical systems and backup systems had been virtually wiped out, leaving the building without power and its management without a way to communicate with the frightened tenants.

"The operating people were injured and killed and literally digging out of the rubble," Maikish continued, speaking in a slow, methodical voice that. captivated the Mariott Marquis ballroom audience.

With quick spin-control by BOMA, the Real Estate Board and other groups, the criticism waned, he said. But what we saw was a reaction, Maikish explained, his voice quavering:

The rescue workers and construction experts were angry that someone had done this. 'It resulted in success," he said People reached inside themselves."

Maikish said no one brought up overtime, benefits or union issues. "It was just a question of surviving this and letting us do more than survive and show the world this kind of event will not affect us on a permanent basis," he said.

None of the press releases or the photos conveyed the size or the amount of the destruction, Maikish said, and as the day's events unfolded, the workers were bombarded with questions that needed answers. There was concern over constructional integrity: Were the Towers going to fall? What was the hotel's condition? Was there asbestos contamination? Were there toxins in the smoke affecting the 40,000 people who exited? What was the condition of the vital building systems?

High winds were being predicted for Monday morning and while they knew the Towers were strong and there was no question about their integrity, Maikish said, there was concern about the hotel and getting braces so the firemen could go in and conduct search and rescue operations.

With the help of Leslie Robinson and Lera and Carl Koch, steel was delivered the next morning. Smoke samples were flown to Virginia on Friday and given a plain 'caustic irritating smoke' designation by that night.

Other issues included restoring telecommunications which would have affected the airports, bond trading and other markets that needed to be stabilized and there was no water in the building. Maikish noted that there was anxiety on the tenant side as well and they had to restore confidence to ensure the Trade Center remained as the economic center of Downtown.

Since then, Maikish said, tenants have been eager to renew early and express a commitment to the buildings.

Management has addressed life safety issues with new emergency equipment but they are still struggling with air conditioning restoration expected by mid-May.

That Friday afternoon, thinking about the bombers, Maikish recalled later, he realized that somewhere out there, they were watching. "I said to my staff, 'We want these Towers lit.' That night they stood lit."

Once again, the ballroom was hushed, as Maikish's eyes grew watery and he paused, overcome with emotion. Saying he was proud of the efforts of the people who brought the building back to life, Maikish explained, "The object was no scars."

Van Deussen Associations, M.F. Bank; Ogden Allied; Modern Sanitation; Schifa Services; Hatzel & Buehler; York Industries; Otis Elevator; Koch Steel, Leslie E. Robertson; Turner Construction; Slattery Assoc.; H. Sand Co.; Joseph Loring Ass., Atlas Marble all assisted.

The real estate industry, including BOMA and the Real Estate Board, came through with at-cost tenant relocation.

"They all came together ... to restore the pride in America," said Maikish.

The disaster, in fact, has actually helped the construction job market and created work for nearly 1,500 people not to mention the cleaning force of 2,700.

While the issue of public parking still needs to be addressed and a decision made whether to allow some on a limited basis or none at all, Maikish believes, 'a balance needs to be struck to preserve a way of life in this city, a way of doing business...which does not impose on you burdens that are not reasonable and prudent.'

With a total cost of $350 million to $450 million, the incident also acted as an economic stimulus.

"We've come out of it a little stronger and a better city," Maikish concluded, "and we shall succeed."
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Title Annotation:World Trade Center director Charlie Maikish addresses Building Owner's and Manager's Association
Author:Weiss, Lois
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Apr 28, 1993
Previous Article:Lawsuit filed against Riverside South.
Next Article:Reconstruction well underway.

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