Advisory Service Panel — Lower Manhattan, New York City

LowerManhattan_Cover

Date: October 5–8, 2004

Location: New York, NY

Sponsor: Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, the Alliance for Downtown New York, and the Friends of Community Board 1

Chair: Smedes York

Subject Area: Disaster Recovery, Retail and Entertainment

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The Assignment
When terrorists struck New York on September 11, 2001, the impact was profound. Lower Manhattan will never be the same, physically or socially. Today, however, many new projects are being planned for the redevelopment of the World Trade Center (WTC) site and other areas of lower Manhattan. One of these projects involves the creation of a retail corridor that will stretch across lower Manhattan, from river to river. The integration of this retail corridor—which will include the World Financial Center (WFC), the WTC site, Fulton Street, and South Street Seaport—into the downtown’s growing and changing neighborhoods is an important part of the overall redevelopment effort.

Summary
The team developed the following key thoughts and recommendations, which are described in more detail later in this report:

  • Retail should be the leading component of commercial development. A champion will be needed to make this happen. Typically, a champion for a major redevelopment project is someone who has credibility in the community and the industry, and can make sure that the appropriate actions are taken to implement the vision.
  • High-quality retail should be established quickly, in order to create a “sense of place.”
  • Retail should take full advantage of the existing streets, foot traffic and the reintroduction of Fulton and Greenwich streets.
  • Office lobbies should not dominate the streetscape. People living in the area provide a sense of community and a market for retail. The team acknowledges that this already is beginning to occur in downtown. In fact, lower Manhattan is the fastest-growing residential market in New York City. This trend must continue, and every effort should be made to encourage additional residential development downtown.
  • The extension of Cortlandt Street into the WTC site should be developed as a pedestrian passage, in the European style, open to the east and west sides of the site.
  • Retail development on the WTC site should be phased and built first, followed by office development. Retail development does not need to wait for other commercial development, since there is a market for it now. Waiting for other commercial uses to come on line also runs the risk of shoehorning retail uses into the site rather than thinking them through strategically.
  • A unified redevelopment approach should be created for the entire WTC site, as well as—if possible—a true joint venture that has control of the entire site.
  • Financing options and incentives, as well as public/private partnership structures, should be pursued in order to make the retail space viable and attractive to potential tenants.
  • Office lobbies are for the use of office tenants and their guests, not the general public. The team believes that office lobbies should be elevated above street level or tucked behind the retail, to allow more space for retail along the streetfront.
  • Make better connections between the WFC and Battery Park City and the WTC site. Currently, the connections between the WTC site and the WFC and Battery Park City are not pedestrian friendly. The many lanes of fast-moving traffic on West Street make it difficult to walk to the rest of lower Manhattan from the west. This needs to be remedied in order to capture the market on the west side of West Street and to promote pedestrian movement from the redeveloped waterfront to the WTC site and the rest of lower Manhattan.
  • Fulton Street should be allowed to evolve as retail uses at the WTC site come on line in a parallel and complementary fashion. Although Fulton Street already is lively and viable, the potential exists for some important merchandising upgrades throughout the corridor east of the WTC site. As new retail is developed at the WTC site, the rest of the retail in lower Manhattan will rise to the new standard and evolve to fill voids in the market.
  • Additional residential units are needed to continue the revitalization of downtown. Every successful, lively downtown, no matter how big or small, has a strong residential component. People living in the area provide a sense of community and a market for retail. Residents also mean people are on the street after the end of the workday. The team acknowledges that this already is beginning to occur in downtown. More people are moving there as more residential development comes on line. In fact, lower Manhattan is the fastest-growing residential market in New York City. This trend must continue, and every effort should be made to encourage additional residential development downtown.
  • The extension of Cortlandt Street into the WTC site should be developed as a pedestrian passage, in the European style, open to the east and west sides of the site.
  • Retail development on the WTC site should be phased and built first, followed by office development. Retail development does not need to wait for other commercial development, since there is a market for it now. Waiting for other commercial uses to come on line also runs the risk of shoehorning retail uses into the site rather than thinking them through strategically.
  • A unified redevelopment approach should be created for the entire WTC site, as well as—if possible—a true joint venture that has control of the entire site. In addition to providing a champion for the retail component, this will help ensure that retail development is controlled in a unified manner, as part of the overall master plan, and is not shoehorned, piecemeal, into the rest of the development.
  • Financing options and incentives, as well as public/private partnership structures, should be pursued in order to make the retail space viable and attractive to potential tenants.

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