- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 10, 2001

NEW YORK Celebrity developer Donald Trump visited Secretary-General Kofi Annan yesterday to discuss the bidding on a planned $954 million repair and upgrade of the deteriorating U.N. headquarters complex.

Mr. Trump, who vexed U.N. officials last year by building a 90-story residential tower directly across the street from the landmark Secretariat Building, will not be donating his services or his bankroll.

"This is not about philanthropy," said Joseph Connor, the U.N. chief of budget and management. "You're thinking of Ted Turner. This is Donald Trump."

The visit yesterday was set some time ago, according to U.N. officials who said it is a coincidence that the developer showed up hours after the U.S. Senate agreed to release about $585 million in overdue U.N. funds.

In Manhattan social circles, the apple-cheeked developer is as well known for his monstrously tall buildings as he is for the shapely supermodels who lean against his shoulder at restaurant openings. He arrived yesterday in a limousine, flanked by bodyguards.

His most widely criticized project has been the Trump World Tower, a black monolith that looms over the United Nations with 90 stories of luxury apartments. A coalition of neighbors sued the city and Mr. Trump repeatedly trying to halt the project, or at least scale it back.

In contrast, the U.N. Secretariat Building is a landmark example of the international style that was popular from the early 1950s to late 1960s.

The building, which resembles a 39-story ice-cube tray, was designed in part by the legendary architect Charles Edouard le Corbusier. Its east- and west-facing walls are curtains of glass that bleed heat in the winter and trap sunlight in the summer.

A decade of deferred maintenance has compromised the building's outdated electrical, phone and ventilation systems. Asbestos and other problems might force its closure if it were subject to New York City building codes.

Even without these problems, the building cannot accommodate the roughly 10,000 employees who report to work in it every day.

The United Nations announced plans last summer to rehabilitate the building, but it is not clear how the perpetually cash-strapped organization will pay for it. The $954 million figure also will cover a new visitor center, rent of temporary office space and landscaping.

Mr. Connor said yesterday that officials are hoping that half the money will be loaned, interest-free, by member states. The rest could come through a public bond offering, donations by dot-com billionaires or another infusion from Mr. Turner, the Atlanta communications mogul who has already pledged more than $1 billion for the world organization.

No matter how the U.N. headquarters is rebuilt, Mr. Connor said, it will still be known as the Secretariat Building. No consideration will be given to selling naming rights, as has been done with college dormitories and sports arenas throughout the country.

"We must keep in mind that this is a multigovernmental organization," Mr. Connor said firmly.


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