Volume 16, Number 29 | December 16-22, 2003

LOWER MANHATTAN



Prettier barriers for Wall St.

By Josh Rogers

Downtown Express photos by Ramin Talaie
New fencing was installed along Wall St. a week ago.

The governor and mayor came to Wall St. last week to offer more specifics on plans to make the post-9/11 security barriers on the streets near the New York Stock Exchange more attractive for workers, residents and tourists.

The $10 million plan will be paid for by the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. and is expected to be completed in April – two and a half years after the Sept. 11 attack.

Kevin Rampe, president of the L.M.D.C., had said in September that the barriers would be moved in closer to the exchange, but it now looks like that movement will be measured in feet rather than blocks.

The plan is to replace the pick-up trucks that obstruct Wall St., Broad St. Exchange Pl. and New St. for a couple of blocks with less unsightly security barriers. At Broadway and Wall St. and Broadway and Exchange Pl., there will be bollards to block vehicles.

A few days before last Wednesday’s announcement, the silver metal “bicycle rack” barricades blocking pedestrians and vehicles from the Big Board’s building were replaced with black decorative fencing. In addition to the aesthetic improvement, the change increased the space where people can walk on Wall and Broad Sts.

Julie Menin, who owns Vine Restaurant on Broad St., said the area has had “a war-zone look to it” and retailers are losing business because of the blocked streets. “Businesses absolutely were hurt,” said Menin, president of Wall Street Rising, an organization she founded to help businesses after 9/11. “Seven businesses have closed on Broad St. alone.” She said Wall Street Kitchen & Bar, a stationary store and a coffee shop are some of the street’s economic casualties. Christopher Norman Chocolates is hoping for better luck when it opens at 60 Broad St. later this month.

The Regent Wall Street, located down the street from the exchange at 55 Wall, announced in November that it would close its hotel, restaurant and ballroom after the New Year. Menin said the street closings probably weren’t the main reason for the hotel closing but “it didn’t help.”

Wall Street Rising is planning to add lighting to some of the neighborhood’s historic buildings as part of the plan. Menin said last week’s announcement “is such welcome news,” adding that she will let the police department decide when it’s safe to open more of the streets. “I live here and work here,” said Menin, who is also one of the 13 jurors who picked eight possible designs for the World Trade Center memorial. “Obviously this area needs to be as secure as possible.”

Gov. George Pataki said the idea is to make the neighborhood “attractive to those people who work here, those who live here and those who come attracted to the magnificence and excitement of the Financial District.”

Catherine Hughes, who lives a few blocks from the exchange, said the changes are better late than never, but “too bad this didn’t happen a year ago.”

Carl Weisbrod, president of the Downtown Alliance, which worked on the plans with the city and the L.M.D.C., said the new pedestrian streets will allow more room for cafes near the exchange. He said he didn’t think the barriers located blocks from the Big Board would become permanent. “It’s a gradual process,” he said. “It will change over time…. The important thing is there is going to constantly be a steady progression.”

Mayor Mike Bloomberg thanked the L.M.D.C. for paying for the improvements and said they would all be done without endangering the public. “We believe we are doing this without the slightest compromise in the security we need in this country and in this city,” he said.

Josh@DowntownExpress.com



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