Mon, Jul 05, 2004 - Page 1 News List

Construction to start on new WTC for New York

DPA AND NY TIMES NEWS SERVICE , NEW YORK

The World Trade Center site, viewed from the Millenium Hilton Hotel last Friday. The cornerstone for a reconstructed center was to be laid yesterday.

PHOTO: NY TIMES NEWS SERVICE

Nearly three years after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, New York was scheduled to begin construction yesterday of a tower that will be the centerpiece of the new World Trade Center.

A 18-tonne granite slab that arrived at New York City's "ground zero" on Thursday will be the cornerstone of the rebuilt center.

Laying the cornerstone of the Freedom Tower will mark the start of construction expected to cost about US$1.5 billion.

The tower will reach 541m when it is completed in 2009.

The slab was scheduled to be put in place yesterday at a ceremony presided over by New York Governor George Pataki and Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Freedom Tower, the centerpiece of the new World Trade Center, is expected to top Kuala Lumpur's Petronas Towers at 452m and Taipei's 101 Tower at 508m.

The reconstruction will include a permanent memorial to the more than 2,700 people who died at the site.

But no one -- not the governor, the mayor, the developer, the bureaucrats, the planners, and certainly not the reporters -- can say for certain how much of the current vision for the new center will be realized.

Pataki has gone to great lengths to identify himself personally with the rebuilding of the trade center, while Bloomberg's administration has kept itself at some distance.

LarrySilverstein of Silverstein Properties controls the development rights to all the office buildings on the site. But after losing several rounds in a legal battle with his insurers, he lacks the insurance proceeds to pay for much more than the construction of the Freedom Tower.

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