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Construction at New York's Ground Zero Slowly Increasing


It is some of the most controversial real estate on the planet. The 16 acres of land in New York that is known as "Ground Zero" draws hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, and interest in what will eventually be built there reaches a peak on the anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports there appears to be little progress at the site six years after the attacks, but developers continue to be optimistic that the Ground Zero redevelopment plan will be finished by 2012.

At street level, it is hard to see the construction effort at Ground Zero.

But look down at the site from above, and the scale of the work becomes clearer. Each day, hundreds of construction workers are literally laying the foundation of lower Manhattan's future.

Six years after the terrorist attacks that changed New York City forever, delays, debate and disaster have all contributed to a perceived lack of progress at the site. The chairman of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, Avi Schick, admits that a lack of communication is partly to blame. "For too long in the past, all the various stakeholders sat in their own rooms in their own offices and planned their own projects."

As New York Governor Elliot Spitzer's representative on the redevelopment, Schick assured the assembled media at an unveiling of further design plans that those problems are in the past.

Schick said at the presentation, "As the governor has said, there will be no more false promises and no more false starts."

Indeed, as he spoke on the 10th floor of World Trade Center Seven -- the only tower actually rebuilt since September 11th, 2001 -- work in the large hole below continued.

With the first steel beams of the "Freedom Tower" now in place, Larry Silverstein, the developer with the rights to rebuild at Ground Zero, promises to break ground on more towers in the next six months. "The buildings will reach street level a year after the start of construction, and at that point, steel will rise, and towers three and four will top out in 2010."

Despite all the optimistic talk, there have been setbacks in recent weeks.

Just across the street from Ground Zero stands the former Deutsche Bank building -- heavily damaged by the September 11th attacks. Now under demolition one floor at a time, in August it became a death trap for two New York City firefighters. Since their deaths, the demolition has come to a standstill.

"We don't have a precise date right now about when that work will commence or when it will end. But I will tell you this, we are gonna proceed safely, we are gonna proceed carefully, we are gonna proceed expeditiously, but we will get that wretched building down and we will get it down soon," said Schick.

All the parties involved have their sights set on a 2012 completion date. Lifelike animations show how New York City would look if the current plans reach completion -- a series of towers that gradually spiral down to the permanent memorial to all those who perished that fateful September morning.

Now called the National September 11th Memorial and Museum, the centerpiece of the plan calls for two square voids surrounded by falling water, aptly titled "Reflecting Absence."

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