By Joan Gralla
NEW YORK, June 30 (Reuters) - Rebuilding at the World Trade Center, site of the Sept. 11 attacks, is behind schedule and over budget, and major problems mean new cost estimates and timetable must be drawn up, officials said on Monday.
Firm projections for the planned memorial, museum, five skyscrapers and transit hub now will be issued by the end of September, New York Gov. David Paterson said.
And it is too soon to say whether the Freedom Tower, which would replace the Twin Towers in the Manhattan skyline, will have to be scaled back, the site’s owner said.
The centerpiece of the rebuilding effort, the Freedom Tower had been due for completion in 2011. At 1,776 feet (541 metres) it would be the tallest building in the United States.
Paterson spoke to reporters after the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the agency that owns the site, issued a report he commissioned because he feared the projects would take longer and cost more than his predecessors predicted.
Only part of the memorial will be done by the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. That anniversary had been the previous deadline for unveiling the memorial featuring two reflecting pools marking the outlines of each of the Twin Towers.
However, developer Larry Silverstein said three adjacent skyscrapers on the 16-acre (6.5-hectare) site will be completed on time by 2012.
The project’s $14 billion cost keeps rising as commodity prices soar and the 19 federal, state and city agencies that are all involved fail to solve logjams.
The list of 15 problems ranges from how many trees the memorial should have to demolishing the nearby Deutsche Bank building — badly damaged in the attacks but still standing — to salvaging the transit hub designed by Santiago Calatrava whose elaborate "butterfly wings" design could be too costly.
Chris Ward, the Port Authority’s new executive director, warned trade-offs would have to be made as projects are assigned new priorities. Paterson said it was too late to redraw plans that have already been revised several times.
Almost lost in the news about the setback was an announcement that the Freedom Tower reached its first lease, as a Chinese company agreed to take five and a half floors at $80 per square foot.
The report also listed a new management structure that included New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg alongside Paterson and New Jersey Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine, giving him newfound influence in the project.
(Additional reporting by Elizabeth Flood Morrow in Albany; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)