Goldman Sachs' decision in August to build its world headquarters near the former trade center hinged on agreements by state and city leaders to finance the project with $1.6 billion in tax-exempt bonds and other incentives.
"Goldman Sachs has called Lower Manhattan its home for 136 years and we are proud to reaffirm our commitment to this neighborhood and to the city of New York," said Henry M. Paulson, chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs.
The groundbreaking ceremony also was attended by Gov. George Pataki, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Charles Schumer.
"We are confirming today that Lower Manhattan is the financial capital of the world and will be for a long, long time to come," Pataki said.
The brokerage firm initially had dropped plans to locate downtown, citing concerns that a proposed tunnel for vehicles beneath ground zero would send traffic too close to the building's entrance. It also expressed concerns over other traffic and security plans at the site. The tunnel plan was scrapped and politicians began months of negotiations to keep Goldman Sachs downtown.
Redevelopment officials saw Goldman Sachs as a crucial anchor to retain and lure back financial tenants to the office space destroyed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack.
The 2.1 million-square-foot, 43-story headquarters will be ready for occupancy in 2009 and will house at least 9,000 employees currently located in several downtown offices.
By Amy Westfeldt