INDEPENDENT NEWS

Annan Calls for Approval of $1.6 Bn HQ Renovation

Published: Fri 18 Nov 2005 01:27 PM
Annan Calls on Assembly to Quickly Approve $1.6 Billion Headquarters Renovation
New York, Nov 17 2005 4:00PM
With the United Nations landmark Headquarters on New York's East River failing fire code, security, environmental and hazardous materials standards, Secretary-General Kofi Annan today called on the General Assembly to approve without delay a nearly $1.6 billion plan to renovate the whole complex by late 2013.
"The full scope of the capital master plan (CMP) renovation is important for the safety of all occupants at United Nations Headquarters. It is important to restore reliability to the ageing infrastructure and prevent unpredictable disruptions to the work of the Organization, which are being experienced with increasing frequency," he says in his latest report to the Assembly on the CMP.
"It is critical, therefore, that a decision on the future direction of the project be taken by the General Assembly at its current session," he adds of the latest $1.58 billion plan, a "dramatic" increase of some 55 per cent over original projections in 2000 due to New York State's failure to approve a tax-advantaged temporary relocation scheme and rising construction costs.
The project, proposed in the third annual CMP report, provides for a phased upgrading of the 38-floor Secretariat building in four stages involving the rental of a 10-floor swing replacement complex.
At the same time a temporary 'big box' will be built on the present North Lawn to accommodate the General Assembly and conferences, Louis Frederick Reuter IV, CMP Executive Director, told a press briefing at Headquarters.
The 17-acre UN complex, built from 1948-50 in accordance with 1938 building codes, has suffered "unacceptable deterioration, building and fire code deficiencies, deficiencies in modern security requirements and standards and environmental problems," Mr. Annan notes in his report.
The complex was found to include building systems well past their useful life as well as hazardous materials, including asbestos, unacceptable safety standards in key areas, notably sprinklers, and systems that cannot be operated at acceptable levels of energy efficiency.
The projected completion date is in late 2013, with some minor work to be done in 2014. The work would be financed by a multi-year assessment on Member States, in order to ensure a stable cash flow, an essential precondition for uninterrupted financing of the project costs.
Mr. Annan calls on the Assembly to approve, effective 1 January 2006, the recommended strategy for implementing the CMP, authorize him to proceed with contracts for the design and construction of a temporary conference facility on the North Lawn and a multi-year lease for office space, and appropriate $108.7 million for 2006 for the design and preconstruction phases.
ENDS

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