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NY Lays Out Aggressive Timeline for Rebuilding Lower Manhattan - 2003-04-24

The Governor of New York, George Pataki, laid out an aggressive timeline Thursday detailing his plan for rebuilding lower Manhattan, devastated in the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The governor's plan calls for the construction of a massive tower at the World Trade Center site by the fifth anniversary of the attacks.

New York Governor George Pataki announced that his office will be the first tenant of the new tower at the site known as "ground zero."

He says the construction of the "Freedom Spire," designed by Berlin architect Daniel Libeskind, will be a priority. Mr. Pataki describes the tower as a new icon that will fill the gap of the World Trade Center destroyed in the attacks, killing nearly 3,000 people. "The Freedom Tower, for all who come here, no matter from what direction, they will witness the tower's imprint on the horizon and they will know our determination to overcome evil," he said.

The agency in charge of the rebuilding effort chose the final design for the site at the end of February after an international competition.

Now, Mr. Pataki has called on the agency to immediately fund $50 million in short term projects that will focus on upgrading transportation links to the subway, airports and suburbs.

The New York governor also envisions a reinvigorated neighborhood, including 3,000 units of residential housing, new parks and a tree-lined promenade that can compete with the Champs Elysee in Paris.

"Lower Manhattan continues to endure hardships associated with the attacks, and it will for some time," he said. "At this critical juncture let us not waiver in our resolve to rebuild. Let us rather move forward with a renewed sense of urgency."

Mr. Pataki presented his ambitious timetable for rebuilding downtown in a speech to New York business and civic leaders.

The New York business community has expressed growing frustration with the pace of redevelopment of the World Trade Center site.

Steven Spinola is the the President of the Real Estate Board of New York. He believes that the New York business community, which is in the midst of the worst financial crisis in 30 years, will be encouraged by the governor's commitment to downtown.

"It was the correct message and it was clearly at the right time because people are looking at their leases at this point in time," he said. "The governor recognized that he had to pull a plan together and he has now put it forward in a way that it dramatic and I think the business community will hear it."

In addition to encouraging business and revamping transportation downtown, New York is also launching a worldwide competition in June to create a memorial at the site to the victims of the attacks.