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NYTimes.com Article: Mayor's Proposal Envisions Lower Manhattan as an Urban Hamlet

  • Subject: [cg] NYTimes.com Article: Mayor's Proposal Envisions Lower Manhattan as an Urban Hamlet
  • From: adam.honigman@bowne.com
  • Date: Fri, 13 Dec 2002 11:40:12 -0500 (EST)

This article from NYTimes.com 
has been sent to you by adam.honigman@bowne.com.

We already have the Tessa Huxley founded "Liberty Community Garden" in the WTC area. Maybe we can get a few more here as civic amenities.  A bright thought on a dreary day...

Best wishes,
Adam Honigman


Mayor's Proposal Envisions Lower Manhattan as an Urban Hamlet

December 13, 2002


Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg yesterday offered his vision of
the future of Lower Manhattan: a collection of
neighborhoods stitched together by large parks and broad
pedestrian walkways, with a direct mass transit link to
Kennedy Airport via a new tunnel under the East River. 

Under Mr. Bloomberg's plan, Lower Manhattan would
essentially be transformed from an ailing financial center
with pockets of residential developments into an urban
hamlet of housing, schools, libraries and movie theaters,
as well as other businesses, some of which would benefit
from a generous new federal tax package. 

The plan calls for changing numerous streets, turning West
Street, for example, into "a promenade lined with 700
trees, a Champs-Élysées or Commonwealth Avenue for Lower
Manhattan," Mr. Bloomberg said to a riveted audience of
business leaders and politicians. Along the East River, a
new waterfront park would stretch to the South Street

While many of the ideas have already been proposed by
various governmental agencies involved in the rebuilding
process, the mayor's plan pulled those elements together
and added to them, creating one broad and hugely ambitious
package with a $10.6 billion price tag. 

"Moving forward," Mr. Bloomberg said, in a speech to the
Association for a Better New York, "Lower Manhattan must
become an even more vibrant global hub of culture, and
commerce, a live-and-work-and-visit community for the
world. It is our future. It is the world's second home." 

Much of the $10.6 billion, however, is already coveted by
other state agencies. Mr. Bloomberg said the plan would be
paid for using $5.9 billion of the $21 billion that the
federal government promised to New York City after the
Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, as well as 9/11-related
insurance money and the proceeds from the sale of
development rights and from Liberty Bonds authorized for
new housing downtown. 

He said no additional money would be required to pay for
the projects until at least 2009, and even then, if extra
dollars were needed, only federal and state money would be
required, not any new city taxes. 

Mr. Bloomberg reserved only 20 seconds of his 31-minute
speech to describe his ideas for the trade center site,
saying simply that "the restored streets would be a
memorial that would put a physical shape to our grief and
to our hopes for the future, and give us somewhere we can
come together to share our thoughts and reflections of how
Sept. 11th affected our lives." 

The mayor's plan is in many ways a direct challenge to the
Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the Metropolitan
Transportation Authority and the Lower Manhattan
Development Corporation, which have led the rebuilding
efforts at ground zero. 

For example, Mr. Bloomberg began his remarks deriding the
original World Trade Center, saying, "The twin towers'
voracious appetite for tenants weakened the entire downtown
real estate market," a clear poke at the plans released
this fall by the development corporation, which called for
substantial commercial development at the site. 

Mr. Bloomberg also called for the remaining $1.3 billion
from the development corporation's coffers, which the
corporation - as well as the Empire State Development
Corporation - has eyed for other uses. The mayor said
nothing about burying West Street, which many
transportation experts have called for as part of
revitalizing downtown; Mr. Bloomberg's transportation
proposal focuses principally on his dream to link Lower
Manhattan to New York's airports. 

Louis R. Tomson, the president of the development
corporation and a close ally of Gov. George E. Pataki, said
yesterday that the success of Mr. Bloomberg's plan would
rely in part on getting the approval of agencies like the
Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of
Housing and Urban Development, which regulate much of the
9/11-related money sought by Mr. Bloomberg. 

"The challenge will be how to reach agreement on husbanding
the resources and applying them," Mr. Tomson said, "and how
to do that in a way that meets the requirements of those
who have the responsibilities to oversee these funds."
Indeed, Mr. Bloomberg is most likely to ultimately find
himself in a position of negotiating his vision with other
state agencies. 

Several people said yesterday that they were concerned
about the mayor's proposed use of $4 billion in federal
transportation funds to link Kennedy and Newark airports to
Lower Manhattan on a so-called one-seat ride. 

The federal government will soon allocate billions of
dollars in transportation money, and there is sure to be a
battle over dollars for various projects in New York, like
the Second Avenue subway line and the No. 7 train

"Is it worth $4 billion to have a one-seat ride to Lower
Manhattan?" said Representative Jerrold L. Nadler, a
Manhattan Democrat. "We are going to have to make choices,
and the important thing is to get the projects that get the
most economic benefit for New York. I am not prepared to
support this project until we do a detailed analysis." 

Mayor Bloomberg's plan calls for an entire physical
reshaping of Manhattan south of Chambers Street. He
proposed building a new park to sit on the deck over the
mouth of the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel and reshaping Battery
Park. He also wants a new waterfront park stretching from
the Brooklyn Maritime Building to the South Street Seaport.

The mayor has called for 10,000 new apartments over 10
years and services for their residents, including libraries
and schools. The plan also seeks an investment in other
transportation projects, like new ferry service and a
transit hub at Fulton and Broadway. 

Mr. Bloomberg believes the city could encourage foreign
businesses to relocate to Lower Manhattan by creating
federal legislation - supported by Sen. Charles E. Schumer
- that would eliminate incremental federal income tax costs
for a 20-year period for companies relocating to the United
States. It would also allow those businesses to retain any
income tax treaty benefits they were entitled to before
relocating here. 

The mayor's aides took pains to point out that his speech
attracted more attendees than one given by President Bush
to the same group several weeks ago. 

"The expectations were high and I think the mayor
delivered," said Richard Anderson, president of the New
York Building Congress. "We have not seen this kind of
planning and thinking out of City Hall in a long time."


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