Price of WTC memorial keeps rising

Conceptual drawing of proposed WTC Memorial

KAI RYSSDAL: At almost $1 billion it would be the most expensive memorial ever in this country. That's the latest price tag for the design at Ground Zero in lower Manhattan. Marketplace's Amy Scott reports New York might have a hard time paying for it. Even if the costs come down.


AMY SCOTT: The revised price tag is nearly double the original estimate for the World Trade Center memorial and museum. Construction costs have soared since then. Just to prepare site will cost 300 million dollars. That's three times the initial figure. Some critics say the project has run away with itself.
PAUL GOLDBERGER: The good news is, everyone's interested and everyone cares. The bad news is, everyone's interested and everyone cares.

Paul Goldberger wrote "Up From Zero." It's a book about the politics of rebuilding Lower Manhattan. Since an independent jury picked the original design from more than five thousand submissions, he says it's been tweaked and tinkered with by politicians, victims' families, architects. He says committees rarely design good things.

GOLDBERGER: Or, if they're presented with a pretty good thing, as they were in the case of the memorial, then they have a way of screwing it up.

That may help explain why the Foundation charged with raising money for the memorial isn't attracting much support. Private donations total just 130-million dollars. Foundation Board member Monica Iken's husband died in the World Trade Center attack. She says the foundation needs a solid project to sell.

MONICA IKEN: If we would have done it right from the beginning, then we wouldn't be having this conversation.

Iken believes the new billion dollar estimate is inflated. New York mayor Michael Bloomberg and Gov. George Pataki are threatening to impose a cap of half that amount.

In New York, I'm Amy Scott for Marketplace.

About the author

Amy Scott is Marketplace’s education correspondent covering the K-12 and higher education beats, as well as general business and economic stories.

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