July 7th - July 13th, 2006
Construction Workers Strike Ends
Friday, July 7th: The International Union of Operating Engineers Locals 14 and 15 and the General Contractors Association of Greater New York reached a deal ending a week-long strike of heavy-machine operators, Newsday reported. The two parties resolved their dispute at Gracie Mansion after Mayor Michael Bloomberg invited them to use the mansion as a common ground, the paper continued. The union contract had expired on July 1st and the new contract, which is a four-year deal and will raise salaries less than 6 percent, is still awaiting ratification by the 3,200 workers it affects, Newsday added.
WTC Memorial Unveils New Advertising Campaign and Project Owner
Friday, July 7th: The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which recently assumed responsibility for building the World Trade Center Memorial and Museum, launched a new advertising campaign to help raise the additional $170 million needed to complete the project, the Daily News reported. According to the paper, the Port Authority has pledged an additional $50 million for construction costs on top of the $100 million it had already promised. "It's time we bring this memorial to life," Mayor Michael Bloomberg told the paper. "It's time that every New Yorker and every American step up and get involved," he continued. The mayor admitted to contributing anonymously to the project, the paper added.
According to the AP, the Port Authority assumed control of the memorial project after recommendations showed it would help to halt the project's rising costs. According to Port Authority chairman Anthony Coscia, the agency can back out of the agreement if the project's price exceeds the $510 million estimated building costs, the AP continued. Coscia added, "We're going to try and reconcile the numbers. No one has agreed to build it for a number greater" than $510 million, the AP reported. According to the AP, the boards of both the Port Authority and the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation voted on Thursday to place the Port Authority in charge of the project.
House to Hold 9/11 Fraud Hearings
Tuesday, July 11th: The U.S. House of Representatives' oversight subcommittee of the Homeland Security Committee, which began investigating 9/11 fund mismanagement in December 2005, held hearings this week to determine the extent of waste, fraud, and abuse of the $21.4 billion that New York City received in federal aid after the terrorists attacks of September 11, 2001, the Daily News reported. The investigations were prompted by a series in the Daily News that revealed the misdirection, misuse, and misallocation of the funds, the paper continued. The hearings, which will be broken down into three separate sessions focused on response, recovery, and rebuilding, will are scheduled take place on Wednesday and Thursday of this week, the paper added.
Liberty Bonds Program Draws to a Close
Wednesday, July 12th: The Federal Liberty Bonds Program, created to aid in the rebuilding of Lower Manhattan, will soon conclude as its final funds are distributed, the New York Times reported. Of the $8 billion program total, all but $50 million will go into rebuilding the World Trade Center site, including $702 million for the Freedom Tower and retail space in the office buildings that the Port Authority is responsible for, the paper continued. Developer Larry Silverstein used $475 million to build the newly completed 7 World Trade Center, and he will receive $2.6 billion to build an additional three towers at Ground Zero, the Times reported.
According to the paper, the remaining $50 million has been earmarked for a 220-room luxury hotel for the site adjacent to the Deutsche Bank Building to be developed by New York developer the Moinian Group. The Liberty Bonds program is unique in that it grants tax-exempt bonds for development in non-blighted areas, the Times continued. Liberty Bonds were doled out by four city and state agencies. Qualifying projects had to be at least 20,000 square feet within the Liberty Zone and 100,000 square feet in other neighborhoods, the paper added.
Silverstein and China Center in a Dispute
Wednesday, July 12th: 7 World Trade Center developer Larry Silverstein and Beijing Vantone Real Estate Co. Ltd, which plans to establish a Lower Manhattan hub for firms investing in China and Chinese businesses, have come to an impasse regarding the Chinese firm's lease of the top five floors at 7 World Trade, the Associated Press reported. In a statement, Silverstein said that "an agreement could not be finalized," adding that Beijing Vantone has failed to meet four deadlines for paying the security deposit required by the lease, the AP continued. In a statement, Beijing Vantone project director Xue Ya retorted, "Silverstein Properties unilaterally imposed deadlines to which we never agreed. We remain committed to moving forward with creating a China Center at 7 World Trade Center," the AP added.
According to the AP, the original agreement gives Beijing Vantone 200,000 square feet on floors 48 through 52 to build the China Center. In a statement, Governor George Pataki said that he remained "hopeful that the China Center will make its home on the World Trade Center site or elsewhere in Lower Manhattan," the AP reported.