One World Trade Center reaches height milestone

5:50 PM, Apr 30, 2012   |    comments
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NEW YORK (USA TODAY) - On Monday, the iconic Empire State Building no longer will be king of the Big Apple's skyline.

The rising steel frame of One World Trade Center is expected to surpass 1,250 feet in height, overtaking the roof of the observation deck of the 1930s vintage skyscraper and claiming the title of New York City's tallest building, says Patrick Foye, executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

The title of tallest building in New York City was held by the World Trade Center's twin towers from the early 1970s until they were destroyed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

When completed at a patriotic 1,776 feet and 104 floors, the so-called Freedom Tower will be 408 feet taller than the twin towers, according to the Chicago-based Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, a not-for-profit group that tracks the building industry.

One World Trade Center would surpass the 1,451-foot Willis Tower (former Sears Tower) in Chicago to become the tallest in the Western Hemisphere, says council spokesman Kevin Brass. The world's tallest building is the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, at 2,717 feet.

One World Trade Center's ultimate height doesn't come without controversy: its 1,776 feet includes a 408-foot-tall needle on the roof. Experts disagree on where to stop measuring monoliths outfitted with antennas, spires and masts. Purists say anything that can be removed, such as an antenna, should not be counted.

The Empire State Building has an antenna, too, added in 1952. Counting the antenna, the granddaddy of super-tall skyscrapers stands 1,454 feet, well above the mark being surpassed by One World Trade Center on Monday.

Construction of One World Trade Center won't be completed until fourth quarter 2013 or first quarter 2014, Foye says. He says the structure is about 55% leased and is "poised to be a commercial success."

News of the tower claiming top spot in the city's skyline is a bright spot for a redevelopment project plagued by cost overruns and delays .

An audit found that World Trade Center redevelopment costs grew from an estimated $11 billion in 2008 to $14.8 billion today.

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