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Six Proposals on PATH Tubes WTC Station

Extract from the complete NYTimes article at :

The six plans vary on the size of the memorial and the exact site of the office buildings, the retail space and a new permanent PATH station linking New Jersey with Lower Manhattan and the city's subway system, according to several people who have seen the proposals.

Designs by David Childs, the architect for Mr. Silverstein and Westfield, call for five office towers, cultural and community buildings, a five-acre memorial and a vast retail complex, partly underground.

But underground shopping could conflict with the desires of those who would prefer more curbside stores to enhance street life. The plans also conflict with suggestions to move the PATH station eastward to Church Street, where it would allow for expanded trains to and from New Jersey and greater links to the city's subway system.

"Too much of the planning and thinking has been driven by the short-term demands of Silverstein and Westfield, rather than good planning for Lower Manhattan," said Craig Whitaker, an architect who teaches urban planning at New York University.

Mr. Whitaker and 11 urban planning students tackled many of these issues in a report, "Next Steps, Hard Choices," that calls for restoring most streets across the site, with seven office buildings along Vesey and Church Streets. Seven smaller buildings, which combine retail and cultural institutions at the ground level and apartments above, would ring a memorial. That would provide a more fitting context for the memorial, Mr. Whitaker said, than tall office towers would.

The proposal also calls for moving the PATH station to Church Street and depressing West Street from the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel north to Chambers Street. The street above the highway would have a grassy median like Commonwealth Avenue in Boston. A garage for tourist buses could be built beneath the memorial.

Mr. Silverstein declined to comment on the specifics, but he said he had confidence in the process. "It appears that the aim of all this is accomplish the best development plans for the 16 acres," he said.

The blueprint for rebuilding Lower Manhattan will take shape in the next five months. The Port Authority and the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation are expected to winnow the proposals to three in September and adopt a final plan in December, which may or may not resemble the original proposals.

In the meantime, Imagine New York, a network of civic and community organizations that has planned a series of meetings to generate discussion on the topic, has invited 5,000 people to a discussion on July 20 of the six proposals and alternatives at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. The group hopes to have an impact on the final plan.

"This all started with a series of constraints, not a blank slate," said Holly Leicht, co-director of Imagine New York and director of design, planning and advocacy for the Municipal Art Society.

"We have to live with the fact that the Port owns the land and Silverstein has a lease. But I hope it's still open-ended enough for planners and the public to weigh in in a meaningful way."

One downtown landlord said it remained unclear whether both residential and commercial development would occur on the site because of Mr. Silverstein's legal dispute with his insurance company over the attack.

If he wins his case against his insurers and gets $6.7 billion, Mr. Silverstein brings too much money to the redevelopment plan to ignore. If he loses, he will receive $3.5 billion, and some real estate executives and state officials say the Port Authority could reach a settlement with him and scrap the contract and its requirements for office space, retail space and the hotel.

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