JP Morgan Chase Unveils WTC PlansJun 22, 2007
NEW YORK – The owner of the World Trade Center site is taking over construction of the Sept. 11 memorial, following recommendations that the government agency would help trim the memorial’s spiraling costs by taking control.
But the chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey also said the agency could back out of the agreement if the price of the project exceeds the latest estimate of $510 million.
“We’re going to try and reconcile the numbers,” Anthony Coscia said. “No one has agreed to build it for a number greater” than $510 million.
The boards of the Port Authority and the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation voted Thursday to have the Port Authority build the memorial. Officials have already approved a new, less-expensive version of the “Reflecting Absence” design after contractors estimated in May it would cost close to $1 billion.
Preliminary memorial construction began in March and stopped two months later when cost estimates came out. The nonprofit memorial foundation suspended private fundraising and its president quit, while Gov. George Pataki and Mayor Michael Bloomberg appointed a developer to cut costs.
The new design for the square pools with cascading waterfalls set above the twin towers’ footprints cuts underground space around the pools, creates one entrance to three separate memorial facilities and raises the names of the 2,979 people killed in the 2001 attacks and in the 1993 trade center bombing to street level.
The latest estimate does not include $150 million to prepare the site for construction, which the Port Authority has agreed to cover.
About $380 million has been pledged so far to build the memorial, $250 million of it from a state development agency. On Thursday, state officials promised an additional $90 million for cost overruns. Pataki has promised the state will pay to build a visitors center for $80 million.
The nonprofit memorial foundation had been in charge of building the memorial, as well as fundraising and, eventually, operating it. Critics of the foundation had said it should focus on fundraising instead of design and construction issues. Later Thursday, the foundation was to formally launch a national advertising campaign to spur interest in the memorial.
State officials announced a $5 million contribution to the memorial from the sale of tax-exempt Liberty Bonds. The $8 billion bond program was created by the federal government to help rebuild lower Manhattan after the attacks.
Meanwhile, the Port Authority-a government agency controlled by the governors of New York and New Jersey – has slowly been taking greater responsibility for all projects on the 16-acre site. In April it took control of building two out of five planned skyscrapers, including the 1,776-foot Freedom Tower. It is the only builder to complete construction of anything at ground zero- a temporary commuter rail hub that opened in 2003.