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Projected Cost of WTC Memorial Rises to Nearly 1 Billion

CORRECTION TO THIS ARTICLE: The May 5 World & Nation section included an article from The New York Times about World Trade Center costs that had an incorrect headline. The headline should have been “Projected Cost of WTC Memorial Rises to Nearly 1 Billion.”

By Charles V. Bagli
and David W. Dunlap
THE NEW YORK TIMES

The projected cost of building the World Trade Center Memorial complex at ground zero has soared to nearly $1 billion, according to the most authoritative estimate to date.

Rebuilding officials concede that the new price tag is breathtaking — “beyond reason” in the words of one board member of the World Trade Center Memorial Foundation — and it is sure to set off another bruising battle over development at the 16-acre site, with calls to cut costs, scale back the design or even start over.

The foundation, which had planned to start construction in March, has already quietly broached the possibility with some victims’ families of moving important parts of the memorial out of the Twin Tower footprints to ground level.

A few years ago, the problems faced by the memorial, the spiritual centerpiece of the site, would have been unimaginable. The underground complex, with its pools, waterfalls and galleries, was the product of a worldwide design competition that drew 5,201 entries and inspired tremendous public passion.

It was supposed to be immune to the controversies that had engulfed the commercial rebuilding at the site, with its completion assured by an outpouring of good will and open checkbooks. But fundraising has lagged, with just $130 million raised from private contributions; many notable donors have yet to contribute.

The new estimate, $972 million, would make this the most expensive memorial ever built in the United States. And that figure does not include the $80 million for a related visitors’ center paid for by New York state.

It will almost certainly draw unfavorable comparisons with the $182 million National World War II Memorial in Washington, which opened in 2004; the $29 million Oklahoma City National Memorial, which opened in 2000; or the $7 million Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, which opened in 1982.

The original World Trade Center itself cost $1 billion in the 1970s, or about $3.7 billion in current dollars, adjusted for inflation. Then again, everything at ground zero carries a big ticket, from the $478 million vehicle-screening center to the $2.2 billion PATH terminal.