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NEW YORK CITY-New York Governor George E. Pataki and New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg earlier today joined Brookfield Properties Corp. officials to mark the firm’s $50-million renovation of its World Financial Center Winter Garden: a 45,000-sf glass-enclosed space that was significantly damaged in the collapse of the World Trade Center towers. Brookfield president and CEO Ric Clark said the garden will reopen to the public on Sept. 17, and that the 22 retail shops and restaurants in the plaza are open or expected to open soon.

“In our goal to rebuild the Winter Garden after 9/11, we couldn’t hesitate and wait for a reasonable plan,” said Clark. “Today we have gathered to recognize the outstanding work of the trade unions, contractors and subcontractors, some from distant corners of the world, who have united and successfully undertaken the painstaking process of restoring the Winter Garden to its former glory from the brink of heart-wrenching destruction.”

“New York is a better place because everyone in this city is pulling for a brighter future,” said Pataki. “The reopening of this building is a symbol of that commitment for this area.” The Winter Garden, which first opened in 1988, is located at 220 Vesey St. between Two and Three World Financial Center.

Bloomberg, who called the work of New York police and fire departments on 9/11 “the most successful rescue effort in the history of man,” concurred with Pataki that the reopening of the garden is a milestone in the rebuilding of Lower Manhattan. “We must tell this story to generations to come of how 2,800 people gave their lives for freedom and democracy,” Bloomberg stated.

The retail comeback at the WFC has been under way since winter 2001, and will accelerate with the reopening of the garden. Retail tenants include Ann Taylor, Gap, Starbucks Coffee, Hallmark, Cosi Sandwich, Godiva Chocolatier, Urban Athletics, California Burrito and others.

More than 500 construction workers, including 54 subcontractors and 22 local union chapters, were involved in the project, which was delivered ahead of schedule and under budget. During the rebuilding process, laborers replaced 2,000 glass panes, 16 trees and 60,000 sf of tricolor Italian marble, much of which was used to rebuild the garden’s grand staircase in the 10-story atrium.

The reopening marks the latest in a series of rebuilding efforts on or near the WTC site since Sept. 11. Brookfield’s One Liberty Plaza was the first property in the area to be reoccupied following the attacks, opening on Oct. 25, 2001. WFC Tower Two, from which some 1,300 panes of glass were blown out as a result of the blasts, reopened in December 2001. Renovation of the bridge connecting Towers One and Two of the World Financial Center, also destroyed in the collapse, were completed April 15, 2002. The south bridge, the east-west connection between the World Financial Center and the streets of Lower Manhattan, was also reopened that day.

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