May 11, 2006

NY World Trade Center rebuilding chief quits

By Joan Gralla

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A leader of the troubled plan to
develop the site of the World Trade Center said on Thursday he
would resign at the end of the month, citing the wishes of his
family and doctor.

John Whitehead, 84, will step down May 31 as chairman of
the Lower Manhattan Development Corp., which he helped create
to oversee the rebuilding of the area devastated by the
September 11 attacks. There was no word of who would succeed

Whitehead said in a statement he had wanted to step down
for some time but stayed on at the urging of New York Gov.
George Pataki and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

His announcement came two weeks after the developer and
landowner reached an agreement on constructing four office
towers that would replace most of the 10 million square feet

of office space lost when the Twin Towers were destroyed.

But just after that long dispute was resolved, the
rebuilding fell victim to a feud over the memorial for the
nearly 3,000 people who died on September 11.

The memorial's estimated cost has soared to $1 billion --
double what Pataki and Bloomberg say should be spent. That
could force an overhaul of the design, which would mark the
Twin Towers' footprints with reflecting pools fed by

"I am sorry to have to make this announcement at such a
challenging moment, but my family and now my doctor have become
increasingly insistent," Whitehead, former chairman of Goldman,
Sachs & Co., said.

He said "general decisions" about the memorial could be
made before he leaves. "I believe in the next few weeks we can
settle on the cost problem, the memorial funding and get the
building under way."