zero 'blueprint' issued, benefits reach Delancey
Rogers April 10, 2002
The chief urban planner
in charge of ground zero says by this summer,
officials will decide the first of three major issues
about Lower Manhattan's future: where and how to make
transportation improvements, what will be the design
process for a permanent memorial for the Sept. 11
victims and how the Hudson River "bathtub"
retaining wall will be fixed. Alexander Garvin,
the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation's vice
president of planning, design and development,
outlined the three issues yesterday - a day that saw a
flurry of World Trade Center-related activity. Garvin
said decisions on the three issues "have to come
early, because they will determine everything
After unanimously approving Garvin's 11-page
"blueprint" of options for Lower Manhattan,
the L.M.D.C.'s board of directors also voted to
include Chinatown and Lower East Side residents in a
proposed incentive package so that those who were
living below Delancey and Kenmare Sts. last Sept. 11
and are still living somewhere in Lower Manhattan,
would get a $1,000 grant. The plan requires final
approval by the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban
Development and by the L.M.D.C., which was set up by
Gov. George Pataki last fall. But the agency now has
equal input from the city since Mayor Mike Bloomberg
added his first four appointees to the board, also on
Tuesday. With the appointments, Bloomberg doubled the
number of blacks and women on the board (to two and
four, respectively) and named the board's first
Hispanic and Asian members - answering a criticism
made by City Councilmembers of all races that the
board had too many white males. He also named a man he
described as "Mr. Lower Manhattan," Carl
Weisbrod, president of the Downtown Alliance and the
person Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver had once backed
to be L.M.D.C. president.
Bloomberg did little however to defuse the demands of
relatives of 9/11 victims who wanted a representative
on the board. The mayor implied that he would not have
named a family member even if he was given a few more
appointments. While making the announcement at City
Hall, Bloomberg said he would have named someone with
knowledge of the biotechnology industry and someone
with ties to cultural institutions and schools if
given more appointments. He told angry family members
Monday night of his plans not to name one of them.
At yesterday's press conference, Bloomberg said
relatives will have a large voice in planning a
permanent memorial and he was confident the family
advisory panels set up by John Whitehead, L.M.D.C.
chairperson, would serve that role.
Garvin's report is called "Principles and
Preliminary Blueprint for the Future of Lower
Manhattan," but for the most part, it reads like
a list of options. When board member Frank Zarb asked,
"what's the process to take us from where we are
now, to reality?" Garvin said "we have to
put meat on these bones."
L.M.D.C. member Paul Crotty said he was concerned that
the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey owns
ground zero. "The future of New York should only
be decided by New York interests," he said.
One idea that is not an option, but has been approved
under the principles is to "eliminate West St. as
a barrier" between Battery Park City and the rest
of Lower Manhattan. Garvin, a former City Planning
commissioner and a close ally of Deputy Mayor Daniel
Doctoroff, said there are three ways to break the
barrier: Depress the roadway in a tunnel; build an
open-space pedestrian boulevard over the roadway, also
known as Route 9A; or build a platform over parts of
the highway which would connect to mezzanine levels in
B.P.C. He said he did not know which of the three
options would take the most time to build, or which
would take the least.
The board also committed to restoring part, if not
all, of the street grid that was eliminated with the
construction of the World Trade Center 30 years ago.
Garvin mentioned reconnecting Greenwich St., a
north-south street, and extending Fulton St. west into
Battery Park City, as the two streets at the top of
Speaking about the wide range of transportation plans,
Garvin said yesterday that "some of these are
extremely expensive, some are not. Some can be done
quickly, some will take years."
Other options under
consideration include building a new transportation
terminal in Lower Manhattan, rebuilding a permanent
PATH station one or two blocks east of the original
W.T.C. site to better connect with subway lines,
extending the South Ferry subway station, building an
east-west pedestrian tunnel, expanding ferry service
from Long Island City to Lower Manhattan, and
extending the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North
into Lower Manhattan.
Borough President C. Virginia Fields released a
statement criticizing the transportation plan because
many of the options would help suburban commuters and
the report makes no mention of giving funds to the
Metropolitan Transportation Authority for the proposed
Second Ave. subway.
"The report highlights new transportation
alternatives that benefit few, while ignoring the
benefits of a full-length Second Ave. subway - the
most urgent transportation need in Manhattan,"
On the other hand, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver,
another big supporter of the subway line, did not
criticize the L.M.D.C. yesterday; in fact he praised
the board for extending the residential package into
Chinatown and Little Italy. Deputy Mayor Doctoroff
said the improvements to transportation to and around
Downtown are essential because that's what has
"stunted its growth for decades. The
transportation issue will set the course for the next
century." Louis Tomson, L.M.D.C. president, said
it was important to do projects that can be completed
quickly rather than those which will take more than
ten years to build. Madelyn Wils, Community Board 1
chairperson and a member of the L.M.D.C. praised
Garvin for his report before voting for approval.
Deputy Mayor Doctoroff said the improvements to
transportation to and around Downtown are essential
because [that's what has] stunted its growth for
decades. The transportation issue will set the course
for the next century.
There were no specifics on the retaining surrey wall,
often called the bathtub, which protects the World
Trade Center from flooding. The bathtub was badly
damaged Sept. 11 and is being reported. There is
general agreement that the Wall is safe for now, but
some engineers believe it will need extra protection
if the site is redeveloped. Garvin only said a
decision in exactly what is required needs to be made
In addition to extending the boundaries, the proposed
changes to the residential incentive plan, the board
added a family bonus of $750 or $1,500 to households
with at least one child who move or stay in
neighborhoods closer to ground zero. Families in the
immediate impact zone, Zone 1, south of Chambers St.
and east of Nassau and Broad Sts., would get an extra
$1,500, and families in Zone 2, south of Canal and
Rutgers St., would get $750.
The immediate impact zone 1 was extended to Nassau and
Broad Sts., as C.B. 1 and Speaker Silver recommended.
The changes adopt another C.B. 1 recommendation, which
guards against landlords raising rents to eliminate
the effect of the incentives. Renters are only
eligible for the benefits if landlords keep rents at
90 percent of the level they were at on Sept. 11 in
Zone 1, and 95 percent in Zone 2.
Zone 1 residents are eligible for up to $13,000 if
they say Downtown for two years, and Zone 2 residents
are eligible for up to $6,000.
The L.M.D.C. has estimated the maximum costs of the
plan have risen from $225 million to $277 million if
everyone takes advantage of the plan.
Christopher Kui, executive director of Asian Americans
for Equality, said the changes for bonuses to
residents move in the right direction, but he said
Chinatown residents should be treated equally to those
living closer to ground zero and that the plan should
extend to families rather than households, since many
Chinese families are doubled- and tripled-up in
"It's a good start," said Kui. "[But] a
lot more needs to be done on the tenant side and also
on the small business side."
New board members
Kui was happy that Bloomberg named Billie Tsien and
other minorities to the board.
"It's a significant step in recognizing the need
to have representation," said Kui. "With the
new appointments we have a much more diverse
Tsien, an architect with Tod Williams Billie Tsien and
Associates, said she intends to be a voice against
only building large structures at the site.
"The buildings built there will most likely be
driven by power and money, which usually mean
architecture comes in third," she said after the
press conference. "I'm a contrarian, an outsider
to the group. That's why I am sort of daunted."
The other board members named were Sally Hernandez-Pinero,
a private attorney and former deputy mayor under David
Dinkins and a former executive with Related Companies;
Stan O'Neal, president and C.O.O. of Merrill Lynch;
Memorial and 'Freedom Park'
The principles adopted yesterday reiterate the need
for a permanent memorial, possibly to be designed by
the winner of an international competition. One option
is to include a Freedom Park and Museum. Garvin said
the museum would be dedicated to "American
ideals" and the park would be a link to museums,
cultural institutions and tourist destinations
throughout Lower Manhattan - possibly running along
the Route 9A boulevard.
Speaking about the entire plan, Whitehead said:
"There's a need for speed, a need for beauty but
also, the need to do something we can afford to do
with all the money that's available."