Volume 19 • Issue 5 | June 16 - 22, 2006

B.P.C.A. looks to expand east

By Josh Rogers

On the day the Battery Park City Authority designated its last two development sites, its chairperson told Downtown Express the agency wants to take over the financially-stalled Greenwich Street South project to add parks and better walkways just to the east.

Jim Gill, the authority’s chairperson, said the agency has air rights to sell, bonding authority and the wherewithal to make the plan happen. The project in Lower Manhattan’s southwest corner includes building a platform over the entrance to the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, adding park space, building five residential buildings, an east-west walkway and parking garage for commuter buses. The area is hard for pedestrians to navigate because of the tunnel, Route 9A and a large parking garage.
“We could get as much as we need for the platform, the infrastructure and the park,” Gill said in a telephone interview Wednesday. He said he had not talked to any of the agencies and officials that would have to agree to the deal yet, but he planned to begin making the rounds.

Gov. George Pataki, who controls the B.P.C.A., last year set aside $80 million toward the project — $40 million from the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. and $40 million from federal 9/11 transportation funds. The money was to help pay for the bus garage, which was estimated to cost $125 million. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority owns several of the devlopment sites and they would have to agree to sell the sites to someone before the plan could proceed.

Madelyn Wils, a director of the L.M.D.C., said the Battery Park City Authority was a “logical” group to do Greenwich Street South and the idea was discussed briefly a few years ago.

“I’m a fan of the idea of bridging over the highway [tunnel entrance] and making Battery Park City and the Financial District accessible,” Wils said. She said the bus garage was desperately needed with 350 commuter buses expected to come Downtown every day.

Mayor Mike Bloomberg first suggested the Greenwich St. idea at the end of 2002 in a speech outlining his vision for Lower Manhattan and the city would have to agree with Gill before the plan could proceed.

“They have to be a full partner on this,” Wils said.

A Bloomberg spokesperson did not return a call for comment.

“It’s a big vision but it is something that could be done,” Wils said.



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