By Nicole Bode
DNAinfo Associate Editor
FINANCIAL DISTRICT — Construction workers hoisted a 10-ton bucket of concrete — adorned with an American flag — to the top of the city's tallest residential skyscraper Thursday to mark the final stages of development.
Developer Bruce Ratner and architect Frank Gehry signed their names on the massive silver container, stood by as it was pumped full of concrete and watched it soar 867 feet to the top of the Beekman Tower as Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the USA" blasted on the loudspeakers.
The "Topping Out" ceremony for Ratner's 76-story skyscraper almost got clipped in half this spring, when project funding dried up and construction came to a halt for several months.
“We’ve been through a rough time. The recession hit all of us, and it got scary, like maybe it wasn’t going to get done,” Gehry told dozens of construction workers, civic leaders and government leaders assembled at the base of 8 Spruce Street.
But Gehry, 70, kept his sense of humor, pointing upwards at his highest building yet and quipping, "No Viagra."
Construction was able to resume in May, with the final three dozen floors intact, as a result of an agreement with the city’s union construction workers and contractors, organizers said.
The Project Labor Agreement is a joint collaboration between the Building and Trades Council and the Building Trades Employers Association, in which unions reduce their labor costs in exchange for guaranteed jobs. The Beekman project is estimated to have generated an estimated 2,500 construction jobs, according to Forest City Ratner Companies.
“Today is the day that we really recognize the workers who build these buildings and the union who makes sure we get quality product,” Ratner said.
The building is slated to house a 630-seat public school on the first five floors, along with rental apartments, retail and additional space for the New York Downtown Hospital.
The school is scheduled to open next fall, followed by the remainder of the building in 2011.