Mayor unveils $11 billion plan for Lower Manhattan
Transportation, waterfront development in Bloomberg vision
From Phil Hirschkorn
NEW YORK (CNN) -- New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg outlined a broad plan Thursday for transforming neighborhoods around the World Trade Center site, a project he estimated would cost nearly $11 billion.
Bloomberg, delivering a 30-minute breakfast speech to the Association for a Better New York, likened his vision to that of Central Park planners in the 1850s, and what he proposed was perhaps as dramatic -- setting up a major new transportation infrastructure, expanding the city's waterfront development, creating new parks and tree-lined boulevards and building thousands of apartments.
The mayor also advocated rebuilding nearly all of the office space -- 10 million square feet -- that was destroyed in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the twin towers.
A key component of the mayor's plan, and the most expensive one, is his proposal for a rail link between Manhattan and two of the area's major airports, John. F. Kennedy International and Newark Liberty International.
"New York is one of the few premier international cities without a direct mass transit link between its airports and the city center," Bloomberg said. "This can be done, and it must be done."
A tunnel from JFK to Lower Manhattan would cost $4 billion and take nine years to build, he said.
Bloomberg suggested LaGuardia Airport potentially could be a destination of expanded ferry service in and out of Manhattan.
In addition, Bloomberg advocated construction of a new downtown transportation hub that would link more than a dozen city subway lines and trains that carry commuters from New Jersey. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the 16 acres of land where the trade center stood, already has put forward that idea.
Bloomberg endorsed converting the eight-lane highway that runs along the western edge of the trade center site, West Street, into a tree-lined promenade similar to the Champs-Élysées in Paris, an idea already popular with planners at the Lower Manhattan Development Corp., which is overseeing redevelopment and memorial design on the site.
Proposals seek to promote business, family life in area
Bloomberg said his vision is intended to complement land-use plans that the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. is set to unveil next week. It has commissioned seven teams of architects to offer varied site designs.
Bloomberg said his overall emphasis is to make Lower Manhattan more attractive to businesses and families.
"Today in the city that never sleeps, much of Lower Manhattan goes to bed promptly at 6 o'clock," the mayor said. "For residents, there isn't a there there. No real supermarkets, not enough open space and not enough schools."
Bloomberg proposed a new corridor from the East River to the Hudson River by stretching Fulton Street, once cut off by the trade center plaza, right through the middle of the site, complete with a new public square and market.
Among the waterfront improvements in his plan is a new park along the East River near the South Street Seaport.
The mayor also proposed a new park on Greenwich Street, where construction already has begun on a new 7 World Trade Center, a 52-story office tower adjacent to the trade center site to replace an office building toppled on September 11.
Bloomberg said the city would open a public library branch and additional schools in Lower Manhattan.
"Wouldn't it be great if these schools were part of the World Trade Center site? I think nothing is more appropriate to remember those we lost than to build something for their children's future," he said.
The mayor said he'd like to see 10,000 new apartments built in Lower Manhattan, in addition to the 65,000 new units he's already seeking be made available citywide.
Cultural institutions are also part of Bloomberg's plan. He calls for performing arts centers, studio and rehearsal spaces, and museums along a two-mile loop around southern Manhattan that would be enhanced by free city-provided shuttle buses.
"Getting around easily means 'community,' and that's what we're trying to create," Bloomberg said.
Federal funds, insurance payments, bonds
He said a combination of federal funds, insurance payments from the September 11 disaster and tax-free bonds would pay for most of the projected $10.6 billion cost of his plans.
He estimated that the infrastructure improvements would cost $8.8. billion, almost half for his proposed airport-rail tunnel, and that federal allocations already amount to $5.9 billion from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Department of Transportation and money given to the Lower Manhattan Development Corp.
Bloomberg called on Congress to pass legislation exempting foreign companies from federal taxes if they relocate their headquarters to Lower Manhattan.
"Done correctly, these public investments will spark a chain of private market reactions," said Bloomberg, himself a billionaire entrepreneur. "New companies, in a range of industries, will grow downtown, strengthening the existing financial nerve center while diversifying it."
Bloomberg announced that the investment firm Goldman Sachs, had reversed its decision to relocate its equity division to New Jersey and would instead keep a majority of those jobs in Lower Manhattan.
Kate Baum, a spokeswoman for the firm, confirmed that while 1,000 Goldman Sachs jobs will move across the Hudson River, more than 1,500 will stay put.