The PATH to rebuilding / Progress Report
A better and stronger Downtown is being rebuilt
By Stefan Pryor
The redevelopment of Lower Manhattan is advancing vigorously, as especially evidenced by the three groundbreakings we have accomplished over the past few months: for the construction of a pair of railroad stations that will create a world class downtown transit hub, and for the deconstruction of the Deutsche Bank building that will enable the expansion of the World Trade Center site to the south. More will soon be under way. We remain on schedule to break ground on both the Freedom Tower and the memorial in the spring, and through off-site initiatives we are undertaking broader redevelopment efforts throughout Downtown.
It is important for those of us who live here to recognize that we are moving forward. We can already see a better and stronger Lower Manhattan emerging from the destruction of September 11th.
The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation is committed to realizing the Libeskind master site plan, which was forged through a two-year public process. It is important to note that through all the challenges and controversy, the master site plan has held.
The centerpiece of the rebuilt World Trade Center will be the memorial, Reflecting Absence, designed by Michael Arad and Peter Walker. It will be a place of appropriate solemnity and life affirming beauty. We are currently moving from the design development phase of the memorial into the construction document phase, in anticipation of a Spring 2006 groundbreaking and a September 11, 2009 opening.
The L.M.D.C. is fully committed to realizing the vision of cultures role in the redevelopment. Along these lines, we recently pledged $50 million to the creation of a spectacular Performing Arts Center that will be located next to the Freedom
Tower at the intersections of a restored Fulton and Greenwich Sts. In the next couple of weeks, one of the most visible signs of progress for anyone who lives or works in Lower Manhattan will be the web of scaffolding rising up the sides of 130 Liberty St., the former home of Deutsche Bank. Work began in early September, and scaffolding will be finished by the end of the year, with abatement continuing throughout the project. Floor-by-floor deconstruction will begin in early 2006 and will take approximately a year to complete. During this major construction job, safety is our highest priority. We have incorporated procedures and allocated funding in our budget for an extensive air monitoring program and detailed emergency action plan.
While our mission is to redevelop the W.T.C. site, we also place a high priority on redeveloping and improving all of Lower Manhattan. In May of this year we announced the allocation of our remaining funds, which will yield dramatic and long lasting results furthering the transformation of our community into a mixed-use, 24-hour vibrant place to live, work and visit.
Included in these funds are: $20 million to rebuild and rejuvenate parks and playgrounds throughout Lower Manhattan, in addition to the $25 million we allocated in 2003; $70 million for the Tribeca segment of Hudson River Park and $150 million for the East River Waterfront, where work is about to get underway; $9 million for transportation projects and local ferry service including the recently-announced ferry service to Yonkers and Rockland County; $15 million for improvements around the New York Stock Exchange; $32 million to fund a Chinatown Local Development Corporation; $38 million for a river-to-river revitalization of Fulton St.; $40 million for a new residential neighborhood and bus garage in the Greenwich Street South area; $20 million for a new school on the East Side; and $15 million to rebuild Fiterman Hall.
The L.M.D.C. will also be announcing major funding initiatives from a $90 million allocation for cultural and community enhancement grants during November and December, which will focus our efforts on projects and programs that will have a long-term positive impact on the community. We have also committed $50 million in L.M.D.C. funds to create up to 317 new units of affordable, moderate and middle income housing, and we will preserve and rehabilitate another 2,854 affordable units throughout Lower Manhattan.
Four years ago, amid the chaos and tragedy that enveloped us, we could not have imagined the revitalized Downtown that now awaits us. Projects of this magnitude and scope are not accomplished without inevitable obstacles and controversies, but the L.M.D.C. remains committed to resolving problems and swiftly moving forward with determination. Through our efforts we will reinvent and strengthen our neighborhood in a way that will make the entire world proud.
Stefan Pryor, a Financial District resident, is president of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation.
Downtown Express file photo by Elisabeth Robert