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Imagery of World Trade Center site

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This is a very interesting digital video rendering from the New York Times, that shows the various pieces of the "complex" puzzle that is the World Trade Center redevelopment site.

The narrator, Henry Fountain, suggests at the end of the video that the site won't be fully completed for another nine years, so it won't be a useful video to send to clients who are visiting New York soon. But it's fascinating to see the different elements that have to be placed in, around, and on top of each other on the 16-acre plot.

Ten popular water parks

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WildebeestTripAdvisor's list of its Top 10 U.S. water parks reminds us that the genre has definitely evolved from the days of a few slides, a lazy river and (maybe) a wave pool.

Regardless, we’ll cut the nostalgia and get right to the chase, as summer is past its halfway point and a solid splashdown couldn’t come soon enough.

Holiday World & Splashin’ Safari topped the list (which TripAdvisor said was "the top ten water parks in the U.S., according to TripAdvisor travelers"). Its featured attractions include the Wildebeest, which at a third of a mile long is the world’s longest water coaster. And ZOOMbabwe, at almost 900 feet long, is the world’s biggest enclosed waterslide. The park’s in Santa Claus, Ind., which is about 75 miles west of Louisville, Ky.

Orlando’s Typhoon Lagoon came in at No. 2 for its surf lessons; the 2,000-foot-long Castaway Creek, which allows visitors to literally float around the park; and massive “Shark Reef," complete with tropical fish and -- gulp -- sharks.

Wisconsin’s Noah’s Ark Water Park, which at 49 rides and multiple wave pools and rivers is the largest in the U.S., was the third most-popular waterpark, especially for those willing to brave the park’s near-looping waterslide.

Morey’s Piers in Wildwood, N.J., combines two water parks with a beachfront location, while Kahuna Laguna, nestled in the mountains of North Conway, N.H., is an all indoor-attraction, giving visitors an 82-degree environment regardless of whether it’s 100 degrees or minus 10 outside.

Rounding out TripAdvisor’s top 10 was Water Country USA in Williamsburg, Va.; NRH20 Waterpark in North Richland Hills, Texas; Adventureland in Des Moines, Iowa; Orlando’s Aquatica; and Wild Water & Wheels in Surfside, S.C. -- By Danny King


Business at U.K.'s 'wet' pubs drying up

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Less smoking and drinking among patrons of traditional England and Scotland public houses might just as well cause more smoking and drinking among those pubs’ owners.

A Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels report released Monday said that business at traditional or “wet” U.K. pubs, or those that don’t serve food, is on the decline, and the culprit is a combination higher taxes, a tough economy, a government push for healthier living and, yes, smoking bans.

As a result, about 25 pubs in the U.K. shut down weekly, as more strict lending standards are making it more difficult for pub owners to secure the financing needed to stay afloat long enough to outlast the spending decline, according to Jones Lang LaSalle. Almost half of U.K. pub owners in a survey said business was down from a year ago, but  about two-thirds of those who owned traditional, drinks-only pubs reported sales that were on the decline.

“Social factors, such as the trend towards drinking at home, together with the general reduction in consumers’ disposable income, are also subduing the sector,” said Harry Hawksby, director at Jones Lang LaSalle’s licensed leisure and hotels division, in a statement. “However, if a public house is well located, well run and offers something extra such as food, the outlook is relatively positive.”

Hawksby added that the performance gap between pubs that serve food and pubs that don’t will likely widen over the next year, causing many traditional, so-called “wet” pubs to become available for sale.

Here’s guessing that the new owners are likely to add kitchens to the pubs that don’t have them.  — By Danny King

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