Touristy security: Downtown Alliance wants NYSE security zone to be more ‘welcoming’ to visitors

Photo by Bill Egbert
The Downtown Alliance argues that the security barriers protecting the area around the New York Stock Exchange can seem less than inviting to visitors.

BY COLIN MIXSON

A Downtown business advocacy group is looking for ways to reinvigorate the area around the New York Stock Exchange in spite of the imposing security cordon surrounding the historic financial institution.

The Downtown Alliance has contracted consulting firm WXY architecture plus urban design to conduct a study of the NYSE Security Zone and work with a committee of local tenants and building owners to formulate a plan that would preserve safety, but also be more inviting to visitors.

“It should be welcoming — and be safe,” said Jessica Lappin, President of the Downtown Alliance.

Photo by Bill Egbert
The bronze barriers and concrete blocks at the security zone’s perimeter were installed hastily after the 9/11 attacks and remain a confusing jumble.

The formidable security zone, which runs along Wall Street between Broadway and William Street and up Broad Street between Beaver and Wall streets, was put in place immediately following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, but the barriers and interdiction devices were hastily erected, and little thought was given to accommodating pedestrians and drivers who must continue to travel through the area, Lappin said.

“There were things put in place very hastily after 9/11, then there were additional security layers added on top over time, so while any one element on its own might be okay, you have this visual and physical jumble of lots of different things that weren’t installed in a cohesive manner,” she said.

The result is that an area steeped in history and cultural value intrinsic to the character of New York City is receiving far less attention than it deserves, according to Lappin.

“The stock exchange has a very rich history, and could, and should be one of the premier corners and areas in New York, and yet it doesn’t look, feel or function the way it deserves to,” she said.

The Alliance doesn’t have any solutions yet for making one of the city’s most iconic instructions more welcoming again, and is placing its trust in WXY to field proposals that the business group can bring to local stakeholders, and to the city once a plan is formulated.

“This is really the beginning of a process,” said Lappin “We understand that the security perimeter itself is not going to change, so looking at what’s there now, we want to have a discussion into what can be added and removed to make it easier for people, on foot and in cars, or making deliveries to get around.”

Lappin’s group is also mindful of numerous development projects in the area, including construction at 20 and 45 Broad Street, and 23 Wall Street, and aims to have a plan in place in 2018, before those project wrap up.

“The idea is, as people start putting things back together, lets put them together in a better way, and lets have a plan in place,” Lappin said.

Once that happens, the alliance plans on acting as a liaison, bringing government agencies and local building owners together in order to see the plan implemented.

“We’re spearheading the study, but we’re neither the city nor the owners, so we can’t implement the plan,” said Lappin. “The idea is to get the city and private ownership together.”

Photo by Bill Egbert
The area around the America’s financial Mecca is already popular with tourists, but the Downtown Alliance argues that better design would make it even more so.

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