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Thirteen years after the 9/11 terrorist attack, the resurrected World Trade Center is opening for business, marking an emotional milestone for both New Yorkers and the nation.
On Monday, Conde Nast will start moving into 1 World Trade Center, a 104-story, $3.9 billion skyscraper that dominates the Manhattan skyline. The publishing giant becomes the first commercial tenant in America’s tallest building.
It’s the centerpiece of the 16-acre site where the decimated Twin Towers once stood and where more than 2,700 people died on Sept. 11, 2001, buried under smoking mounds of fiery debris.
“The New York City skyline is whole again, as 1 World Trade Center takes its place in Lower Manhattan,” said Patrick Foye, executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns both the building and the World Trade Center site.
He said 1 World Trade Center “sets new standards of design, construction, prestige and sustainability; the opening of this iconic building is a major milestone in the transformation of Lower Manhattan into a thriving 24/7 neighborhood.”
With construction fences gone and boxes of office equipment in place, Conde Nast CEO Chuck Townsend planned to walk into what Foye calls “the most secure office building in America.”
Only about 170 of his company’s 3,400 employees are moving in now, said Patricia Rockenwagner, a Conde Nast vice president and spokeswoman. About 3,000 more will arrive by early 2015 to fill five floors of the tower.
The building is 60 percent leased, with another 80,000 square feet going to the advertising firm Kids Creative, the stadium operator Legends Hospitality, the BMB Group investment adviser, and Servcorp, a provider of executive offices.
The government’s General Services Administration signed up for 275,000 square feet, and the China Center, a trade and cultural facility, will cover 191,000 square feet.
The eight-year construction of the 1,776-foot-high skyscraper came after years of political, financial and legal infighting that threatened to derail the project.
The bickering slowly died down as two other towers started going up on the southeast end of the site: the now completed 4 World Trade Center, whose anchor tenant is the Port Authority, which started moving in last week, and 3 World Trade Center, which is slowly rising.
The area has prospered in recent years beyond anyone’s imagination. About 60,000 more residents now live there — three times more than before 9/11 — keeping streets, restaurants and shops alive even after Wall Street and other offices close for the day.
Still, it’s a bittersweet victory, one achieved with the past in mind as the architects created 1 World Trade Center.
T.J. Gottesdiener of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, the firm that produced the final design, told The Associated Press that the high-rise was built with steel-reinforced concrete that makes it as terror attack-proof as possible.
He said the firm went beyond the city’s existing building codes to achieve that.
“We did it. We finally did it,” he said.
The opening comes on the heels of Chris Rock‘s jokes about the newly finished Freedom Tower, situated next to the former Twin Towers location, on NBC’s Saturday Night Live over the weekend.
“They should change the name from the Freedom Tower to the ‘Never Going in There Tower,’ ’cause I’m never going in there,” he said. “Who’s the corporate sponsor, Target? … They put another skyscraper in the same spot? … I am never going in the Freedom Tower, man. Are you kidding me? It’s the same spot. I got robbed on 48th and Eighth a few years ago. I have not been back to 48th and Eighth. … I don’t care if Scarlett Johansson is butt-naked on the 89th floor in a plate of ribs. I’m not going in there.”
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