Public pans WTC plans
NEW YORK (CNN) -- Thousands of New Yorkers huddled around tables Saturday to give their opinions of the rebuilding plans for the World Trade Center site -- and the reviews were not good.
Half of the approximately 4,000 people who voted on the six proposals rated four as poor and expressed only mild approval for the other two plans.
One of the plans which garnered mild approval -- called "Memorial Plaza" -- would leave undeveloped eight acres, including the land on which the twin towers stood. The second, "Memorial Promenade," features a large promenade along the site's western edge and partially covers the "footprint" of the fallen towers.
Saturday's event was organized by the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the land. It was held at the Jacob Javits Center -- which served as the supply depot during the early days of recovery efforts after the September 11 attacks.
Many of the critics described the plans as too dense and too large. They cited a need for more non-office space, including residential and cultural structures like libraries, recreation centers and schools. Others urged that new, more ambitious, more monumental designs be submitted.
"It looks like Albany," was one comment about the plans.
Each scheme devotes several acres to open space for a memorial to the 2,823 victims, plus six victims of the 1993 bombing of the Trade Center, whose memorial was destroyed.
The varied plans call for four to six office towers, ranging from 32 to 85 floors -- far shorter than the trade towers, each of which was 110 stories high. The towers would replace the 11 million square feet of office space lost in the World Trade Center attacks.
The plans also call for rebuilding 600,000 square feet of lost retail space and replacing an 800-room hotel that was part of the site.
Almost 20 percent of those who attended described themselves as survivors of the event; and one in 11 said they were related to someone who died in the September 11 attacks. New Yorkers who did not attend can express their opinions at www.listeningtothecity.org.
The task force has been at work since February, charged with developing a design, location, cost rundown and timeline, all with maximum public participation.
The LMDC, formed by New York Gov. George Pataki in the aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks, commissioned the plans for the 16-acre Manhattan site.
Some people have argued that none of the plans address the sheer number of visitors the site will draw.
"The Port Authority had put constraints on the builders, I feel, to make sure that we had 11 million square foot of office and retail and a skyline," said Monica Iken, whose husband worked in the south tower of the World Trade Center and is among those whose remains have not been identified.
"I don't know how we will be able to accommodate for the amount of people that will be coming through," she said. "I think we really need to project that before we can decide how much office space and retail and transportation should be there."
After a public comment period -- which began with Saturday's meeting -- the LMDC will refine the Trade Center site plans into three options by mid-September, hoping to settle on one plan by year's end. Simultaneously, a design competition for the memorial component will get under way.
The preliminary plans are meant to address a broad range of business needs as well as rehabilitate the city's downtown transportation infrastructure damaged by the attacks. The first signs of redevelopment should be visible this fall with the restoration of damaged city subway lines and train routes connecting to New Jersey.
While no new buildings are expected to be completed on the site before 2005 or 2006, replacing the lost commercial space is the goal of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the bi-state transportation agency that owns the land and owned the profitable buildings.
--CNN Producers Jonathan Wald and Phil Hirschkorn contributed to this report.
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