February 9th - February 15th, 2007
Contract Amended for the Demolition of 130 Liberty
Saturday, February 10th: The New York Times reported that Bovis Lend Lease, the contractor taking down the former Deutsche Bank tower at 130 Liberty Street, will have to dismantle one floor per week under a newly amended contract. Removal of the tower is critical for construction to progress at the World Trade Center site. "I believe we have solved our problem," Deputy Mayor Daniel Doctoroff told the Times The Daily News added that the demolition will cost $15.7 million more than the expected $80 million estimate and is expected to be completed a year behind schedule. According to the Daily News, the deal is expected to be approved by the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation next week.
Bloomberg Axes Survivors Staircase
Tuesday, February 13th: The Daily News reported that Mayor Michael Bloomberg has dismissed the idea of housing the Survivors Staircase in Tower 2 at the World Trade Center site. The decision places the mayor at odds with Governor Eliot Spitzer, who recently expressed support for preserving the staircase, the paper continued. The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation "has accepted public comment, [and] now it's time to make a decision," Bloomberg spokesman John Gallagher told the News. The staircase was used as an exit route for many 9/11 survivors.
Spitzer Likely to OK Freedom Tower
Tuesday, February 13th: The Associated Press reported that Governor Eliot Spitzer is expected to approve construction of the Freedom Tower and abandon his criticism of the 1,776-foot-building in light of the rapidly improving Lower Manhattan real estate market. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has not given a final authorization of the Freedom Tower, but Spitzer is expected to make an announcement before a February 22nd meeting of the Port Authority, according to the newswire.
Spitzer placed the Freedom Tower under review when he took office in January, but with steadily decreasing vacancy rates downtown and prospects for tenants for the tower improving, parties involved expect the project to be green-lighted this month. According to the newswire, the Port Authority has recently received unsolicited inquiries from hedge funds and investment banks interested in buying the tower and investing in Lower Manhattan real estate, but no formal steps have yet been taken in that direction.
Blackstone Group Considers Freedom Tower Purchase
Wednesday, February 14th: The New York Post reported that the Blackstone Group has made an unsolicited approach to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey about acquiring the Freedom Tower. According to unnamed sources, Blackstone is just one of several real estate investors that have expressed interest in the tower. The Port Authority, which agreed to take over control of the Freedom Tower and a fifth tower at the World Trade Center site, has made it clear that the agency's investment will have to work financially and not drain resources from its core mission of operating regional transportation systems. The agency is considering a range of options, including one or more private investors for all or part of the building, estimated to cost $3 billion, but any discussions with potential investors are at a very preliminary stage.
Bloomberg Calls for Federal Funds to Treat Those Sickened After 9/11
Wednesday, February 14th: Mayor Michael Bloomberg called on the federal government to sharply increase health spending for those who became ill after the 9/11 attack at the World Trade Center, the New York Times reported. The mayor requested the creation of a new victims' compensation fund for those who are sick and allocation of $150 million a year to cover the cost of screening, treating, and monitoring for rescue workers and downtown employees and residents who may have been affected.
Bloomberg's request followed the release of an 83-page report compiled by a task force developed in September to create a coordinated plan for dealing with 9/11 health problems. According to the task force's findings, the attacks have cost the city healthcare system about $393 million a year, or a total of $2 billion, and nearly 43,000 people exposed to the dust and smoke might seek treatment for symptoms "that a prospective patient may associate with 9/11," the Times reported.
"What is unclear and can't yet be possibly known are those illnesses that may appear in the future," Bloomberg told the Times. "But that's not going to stop us from caring for those who are sick today and building the capacity to identify and respond to illnesses that may reveal themselves tomorrow.
Bloomberg suggested that $1 billion set aside by the federal government in 2003 to create an insurance company to protect the city against victims' lawsuits instead be used to create the new victims' fund. To receive payouts from the fund, victims would have to give up their right to sue.
State Assembly Advances Bill Aiding WTC Responders
Thursday, February 15th: The New York Daily News reported that state lawmakers have advanced a bill that would award accidental death benefits to Ground Zero responders who became fatally ill after being exposed to 9/11 dust and smoke. The measure is expected to pass easily in the Senate next week.
The bill would extend death benefits to police officers, firefighters, sanitation workers, emergency medical technicians, and others who were exposed to toxins while participating in 9/11-related recovery and clean-up activities.