World Trade Center Spire Being Held ‘Ransom’ in Contract Dispute

World Trade Center officials are suing to get the last piece of the Freedom Tower delivered amid a payment dispute with its manufacturer.

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Gary Hershorn / Reuters

The moon rises behind the skyline of New York's Lower Manhattan and One World Trade Center as people stand along the Hudson River in Jersey City, New Jersey, October 1, 2012.

A Canadian steel manufacturing company has the final piece of the new World Trade Center, and it’s not letting go, critics say, unless its demands are met. A contractual dispute has left the 450-foot steel spire — the finishing piece to what will become the tallest structure in the Western hemisphere — stuck in Terrebonne, Quebec.

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ADF Group Inc., the company that fabricated the Freedom Tower’s last component, has three separate World Trade Center steel contracts worth about $100 million. The company says it won’t ship the antenna until the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey pays an outstanding debt on $6 million pertaining to one of the other contracts.

The Port Authority filed suit in New York Friday, trying to force the shipment of $10 million worth of steel components, including the spire. “ADF refuses to ship this antenna steel unless and until it receives approximately $6 million allegedly owed under another contract for another project, as ransom,” the lawsuit claims, according to the New York Post. The Port Authority doesn’t deny it owes money to ADF — the two companies have agreed on an installment plan — but it does claim that the settlement contract specifically states that the dispute won’t affect the shipment of the steel spire.

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Jean Paschini, chairman and chief executive officer of ADF, told Canada’s National Post he just wants his money. “I know I’m not making friends right now but at the end of the day, money is money and business is business,” he told the paper. “I’m not holding it hostage, it’s here in my backyard … Pay me and then you get your antenna… Let’s resolve everything, then you get your nice antenna so you can put it up.”

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The issue needs to be resolved quickly:  the parts will need to be delivered via barge, and once the St. Lawrence River freezes for the winter there will be no way to finish the construction job until next year. The port says the delay in shipping the steel needed for the spire’s mast, antenna ring and roof nodes, originally scheduled to leave Quebec on Sept. 24, threatens to hold up the entire project, force the layoff of 100 iron workers and potentially jeopardize the move-in dates of tenants.

“Due to the iconic character of 1 WTC Tower and the enormous complexities surrounding its erection, leasing and opening, money damages cannot adequately compensate for the harm ADF is causing with every passing day that it refuses to deliver the antenna steel,” the Port Authority claims in the lawsuit.

ADF representatives are currently in New York City negotiating with the Port Authority; the Manhattan Supreme Court will hear arguments on Oct. 26, if no deal is reached, on why the steel should be shipped immediately as part of a preliminary injunction.

When completed, the new tower will rise 1,776 feet.

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