Crews Begin Razing Ruined Building Near Ground Zero

Fri December 22, 2006 - Northeast Edition
Amy Westfeldt - ASSOCIATED PRESS



NEW YORK (AP) Workers began taking apart a black-shrouded, ruined skyscraper that has languished above Ground Zero since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

On Dec. 8, construction workers started removing metal column covers and glass windows on the top four floors of the former Deutsche Bank AG building, which was permanently damaged when the World Trade Center’s south tower tore a 15-story gash into it on Sept. 11, 2001.

“I’ll be happy to see it gone,”’ said Sandy Gant, who has looked outside his 10th-floor apartment at the vacant, 41-story tower since the attacks. “It’ll improve my view a little bit.”

The deconstruction of the building has been one of the most complex in the city’s history because environmental regulators had to approve a floor-by-floor plan to clean out the building of asbestos, lead, toxic trade center dust and other toxins.

In addition, forensic anthropologists continue a search for the remains of Sept. 11 victims; workers have recovered more than 760 bones from the roof and top floors in the past year. The search will continue on lower floors.

City permits were issued Dec. 7 to remove the facade, said Charles Maikish, executive director of the Lower Manhattan Construction Command Center, the agency overseeing the project. After removing the facade of the top four floors, the steel and concrete columns will be removed. Material from the facade will be cut, wrapped in plastic and moved off the site, officials said.

“It is actually the backwards process of building a building,” said Robert Harvey, the command center’s deputy executive director.

The black shrouded netting on the building will be lowered with each floor that is taken down, Maikish said. The building is expected to be gone in a year, clearing space planned for a new office building or hotel, a park and a church.

The tower was the focus of a protracted battle over who should pay to clean it up and take it down. The building lay untouched for months after the terrorist attacks, becoming infested with mold caused by moisture from fire sprinklers. Deutsche Bank battled several insurers for payments and sued the city for more than $500 million in damages to the tower.

The Lower Manhattan Development Corp., a rebuilding agency, bought the tower in 2004 and began cleaning it a year later, after environmental agencies approved plans. The project was transferred this year to the command center.