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More delays at WTC site in NY

PRIVATE developers of New York's World Trade Center site and the public agency that owns the land have failed to reach a deal to allow construction to go forward, the city's Mayor Michael Bloomberg said on Tuesday.

Amid fanfare, the redevelopment of the site was touted as a symbol of the city's revival after hijacked planes flew into the twin towers on September 11, 2001, destroying the buildings and killing nearly 3,000 people.

But battles over insurance, designs and security have long delayed redevelopment of the 16-acre site, which is owned by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and was leased by developer Larry Silverstein just weeks before the 2001 attack.

With the United States recession leaving banks wary of lending for real estate projects, Silverstein wants the Port Authority to guarantee loans for two of its three planned office buildings. But the Port Authority only wants to guarantee one tower even though it would become the owner if Silverstein defaulted.

"We are disappointed that we have yet to reach agreement to address the latest impasse at the World Trade Center site," Bloomberg and New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said.

"The cause is too important to give up - and we will continue to work with all the parties to fulfill our collective obligation to rebuild the site," they said.

The Port Authority is already building a 541-meter skyscraper, which was called "Freedom Tower" but is now One World Trade Center to make it easier to market. It will be the city's tallest tower and is due to be built by 2013.

A study commissioned by the Port Authority found that it would take until 2037 to lease all the planned office towers and in April the agency said it was taking a cautious approach during the economic downturn.

The agency is run by the governors of New York and New Jersey. Bloomberg has no control over the site, but hosted a meeting of key players, including the Democratic governors of both states, more than a month ago, setting a deadline of June 11 for an agreement to be reached to move the project forward.

The Port Authority said it agreed that progress at the site must continue.



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