Friday, July 21, 2006

The Battle For Ground Zero, Part 155

The Port Authority is trying to catalogue parts of the WTC facade so that it could potentially be reassembled as part of the 9/11 memorial/museum. They don't know if they have all of the iconic remnants of the towers that remained standing when the towers collapsed on the morning of September 11th.

Apparently the Chinese company that was expected to rent the top five floors of 7WTC aren't ready to call it quits. They want another shot to sit down with Silverstein and hammer out a deal.

The NYT has a story about the Tomassetti clan, whose construction firms are found all over the Ground Zero site.
The pieces of Dino Tomassetti Sr.’s construction empire are all over ground zero.

A glance into the pit at the World Trade Center site reveals his company’s Laquila cranes, heavy equipment, pickup trucks and crews. His oldest son’s blue and white Empire Transit Mix trucks will deliver concrete for the foundation of the Freedom Tower, the most symbolic of the five planned skyscrapers. His daughter’s company will deliver the steel rods, or rebar, that strengthen the concrete walls.

But Mr. Tomassetti, the 79-year-old patriarch of this empire, is barred from setting foot on the 16-acre site.

He is under indictment, accused of making thousands of dollars in illegal payoffs to union officials over a 10-year period. He denies the charges.

Federal prosecutors and testimony have linked him to organized crime figures. His companies have been banned from obtaining city contracts and stripped of a special permit to operate a solid waste transfer station. One Laquila company was fined for its part in a scheme organized by a member of the Gambino crime organization to dump construction debris illegally in New Jersey.

But none of this means his family will be on the sidelines when it comes to building what will be the city’s tallest tower. The central contract for excavation and foundation work, which is worth tens of millions of dollars, was awarded to his youngest son, Dino Tomassetti Jr., 27, who until recently chauffeured his father from job site to job site in a black Lincoln Navigator.

The developer building the Freedom Tower, Larry A. Silverstein, says that the elder Mr. Tomassetti owns one of the best foundation companies in the city, Laquila Construction. Hiring the son and his company, Laquila Group, was a way to take advantage of that expertise while avoiding doing business directly with the father, according to Silverstein executives.

And then there are the safeguards. Mr. Silverstein has hired an experienced integrity monitor, with the authority to audit the books of the Laquila Group and watch its bank account to ensure that the elder Mr. Tomassetti will not make any money from the $2 billion project.
Ah, the costs of doing business in New York City.

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