Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Rebuilding of Ground Zero, Part 82

The former Deutsche Bank building is expected to be gone by December 2010, which is years after the building was originally slated for demolition due to a deadly fire, serious problems with the contractors involved in the work, and new more onerous rules designed to prevent future accidents at the site.
LMDC President David Emil said he expects the demolition to begin on Nov. 2. Until a few floors come down, he said, it's too soon to be able to predict how quickly the work can be done and when it would be finished.

The tower suffered a 15-story gash on 9/11, and was filled with toxins from the collapsed World Trade Center.

Work to demolish the Deutsche building began in March 2007. It was expected to be done by the end of 2008.

But the project has had a history of setbacks, including an August 2007 blaze in which two city firefighters died, unable to get water from standpipes that had been cut. The fire and ensuing investigation stopped work for 10 months.

Costs have risen dramatically, too. In 2004, the price tag for demolition and cleaning the tower of toxins was put at $82 million. The cost now is estimated at well over $200 million, not including the $90 million the LMDC spent to buy the site.

Corruption charges have also hit former contractors. Yesterday, Robert Chiarappa, 45, was sentenced to 2½ years in prison for billing the government for $1.2 million in supplies that were never delivered.
Meanwhile, Fiterman Hall across Ground Zero from the Deutsche Bank building is nearly gone. About three stories remain of that building, and a new IM Pei designed building for the Borough of Manhattan Community College will soon rise on the site.

At the same time, the massive steel beams making up the exterior base of the Freedom Tower continue to be installed, and the north core tower crane was jacked to accommodate the rising tower. There are now four massive cranes (two tower cranes and two movable cranes) operating on the Freedom Tower site.

Meanwhile, some folks haven't been paying attention to the real work done at the site. This guy at Business Week thinks there hasn't been any work on the site.

Also, there has been some uproar over the fact that a contract to manufacture blast-resistant glass for the Freedom Tower went to a Chinese company.
"This new tower is going to be made out of subsidized Chinese glass, putting factory workers out of their jobs in America," said Scott Paul, director of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, a partnership of the United Steelworkers and some manufacturers.

On Thursday, the Alliance sent a letter to U.S. trade officials asking that they address what they see as unfair trade practices. Specifically, the group says that the Chinese government spends billions of dollars subsidizing the glass industry's energy costs.

"Our domestic glass industry is the most efficient in the world, but it cannot compete against production that is heavily subsidized by the Chinese government," according to the letter. "As a result, glass production in the U.S. has suffered in recent years, with plant closings and thousands of lost jobs throughout the country."

U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke are slated for trade meetings in Hangzhou, China, later this month.

A Chinese spokesman on trade issues did not respond to requests for comment.

The U.S. glass industry has lost more than 40,000 jobs since 2000, according to Department of Labor figures, even as the Chinese glass industry has experienced explosive growth. Between 2000 and 2008, U.S. imports of Chinese glass have tripled.

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