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CNBC’s “Ground Zero Rising: Freedom vs. Fear” Premieres on Thursday, September 1st at 10pm ET



ENGLEWOOD CLIFFS, N.J., August 29, 2016 – As the fifteenth anniversary of 9/11 approaches, the World Trade Center has emerged as a place reborn. It is the sacred ground where more than 2600 people lost their lives, and now something more: a vibrant public, commercial and retail space that stands as proof of American tenacity and resilience.

On Thursday, September 1st at 10pm ET/PT, CNBC presents "Ground Zero Rising: Freedom vs. Fear," a one-hour documentary reported by anchor Jim Cramer that tells the story of the revitalization of the 16-acre site complete with solemn memorial pools, a new park, an architecturally striking transit hub, and new office towers.

Taking more than six years and nearly $4 billion to complete, One World Trade Center is the most expensive skyscraper in the world. Two years after opening, 70 percent of the building is leased, though some prospective tenants have balked at the idea of moving to the site of the 9/11 attack. Chris Altchek and Jake Horowitz, founders of the digital media company Mic, tell CNBC what they had to do to address the concerns of some employees over the company's decision to relocate to One World Trade. Altchek says the building is, "a monument. Being in a place that inspires you every day…reminds you why you do what you do is important." Cramer also sits down with David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker, who says working at Ground Zero every day is a source of pride for his staff.

Rebuilding the full World Trade Center site has taken some 14-16 billion dollars in public funds and billions more in private investment. The Oculus, the World Trade Center's recently opened transportation hub, serves a quarter of a million riders every day but critics point to its $4 billion sticker price as a sign of reckless spending. Real estate tycoon Larry Silverstein has built two major towers at the site and has a third under construction. When asked if his investment in the new buildings is worth it, he tells Cramer, "From an economic standpoint, honestly, I don't know." But, he says, from a New Yorker's vantage point, it is "eminently worth it."

Standing at 1776 feet, One World Trade Center is the tallest skyscraper in the Western Hemisphere. Built with cutting-edge security features designed to thwart an attack, it may be not only a shield, but a target as well. It is touted as perhaps the safest building in the world, though some counter-terrorism experts say its elaborate fortification, including a strong concrete core, may be a defense against the wrong threat. Former FBI Special Agent Don Borelli tells Cramer today's "lone wolf" terrorists present the biggest current danger and make security concerns at the World Trade Center only more pressing. Borelli says there already have been "lots of credible threats" made on the building. CNBC gets a rare look inside the Operations Command Center at the complex where George Anderson, Director of Security for the World Trade Center, and his team keep watch over every square inch of the 16-acre site.

Cramer profiles Lee Ielpi, a retired New York City firefighter, who has been telling strangers his story for years as the co-founder of the 9/11 Tribute Center. Ielpi leads a group of tourists around the memorial pools at the World Trade Center and shows them one section of names etched in bronze belonging to New York Fire Department Squad 288/HazMat 1 – from which nineteen men perished, including his own son.

Cramer also tells the story of Greg Carafello, who fled from the 18th floor of the original World Trade Center's South Tower on 9/11. For many years, Carafello avoided the site at all costs, having lost his best friend in the attack. In 2015, when looking for office space for a new company, he chose an unlikely location: One World Trade Center. Now Carafello is the only tenant from the old Twin Towers to have moved into the new building. He is so committed to the site that he volunteers as a docent in the 9/11 Memorial Museum. When asked if he regrets his decision, he tells Cramer, "Not at all. I just find it the beginning of a new life for me."

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CNBC's "Ground Zero Rising: Freedom vs. Fear" will re-air on Sunday, September 11th at 10PM ET.

Mitch Weitzner is Senior Executive Producer and Vice President of Long Form Programming. Wally Griffith is Senior Producer. Reid Collins and James Segelstein are Producers and Charlotte Lewis is Associate Producer. Nikhil Deogun is Senior Vice President and Editor in Chief of Business News for CNBC.

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