Wednesday, October 06, 2010

The Rebuilding of Ground Zero, Part 116

Construction is proceeding all around Ground Zero as the Freedom Tower (1WTC) and 4WTC both rise gradually above the site. The museum and memorial spaces continue to be built out.

At the same time, the Winter Garden, which is located in the World Financial Center across West Street and was wrecked by falling debris on 9/11 is in for a makeover. The Winter Garden had connected to the World Trade Center with a pedestrian bridge before the 9/11 attacks, but the new WTC complex will connect with the World Financial Center via an underground passage that will link up with the Santiago Calatrava-designed transit hub and the upgraded Fulton Street station.

The Winter Garden is one of the grand public spaces in the City and the staircase is one of the reasons.

However, the underground connector means that the current grand staircase may disappear so that the frontage with West Street can be opened up. Brookfield Properties, which operates the Winter Garden, has proposed a new design for the building.
Brookfield also plans to create a two-level market and 714-seat food court in the retail space just south of the Winter Garden, with cafes and test kitchens by the city’s top restaurateurs.

David Cheikin, vice president of leasing for Brookfield, said he hopes to revive the Financial Center’s sleepy, underutilized retail by serving local residents in addition to office workers.

"We believe we can take [the WFC] from a five-day-a-week retail corridor to a seven-day [corridor]," Cheikin said Monday night.

Many Battery Park City residents strongly object to demolishing the Grand Staircase, which was rebuilt after 9/11 and has since become a place of community gathering. City Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden also wants to preserve the stairs.

However, Brookfield executives said that if the stairs stay in place, they would create a choke point by blocking the exit of the new pedestrian tunnel beneath West Street, scheduled to open by the end of 2012.

"We like those stairs, too," Lawrence Graham, a Brookfield vice president, told CB1 Monday. "We wish we could have found something different. Obviously, it would have been cheaper for us [to keep the stairs in place]."
Meanwhile, Fiterman Hall is rising adjacent to 7WTC between West Broadway and Greenwich Streets. Steel has reached 6 stories above street level.

It will start receiving the brick cladding on its exterior in coming weeks and the exterior work should be complete within a year.

At the same time, the Port Authority is looking to restart talks over the fate of the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church, which was destroyed by the collapsing towers. The site is adjacent to the former Deutsche Bank building, which is thankfully in the final stages of demolition more than nine years after the attacks.

A LMDC Committee is proposing a reallocation of funds to cover construction of a performing arts center, which may end up being built on the site of the former Deutsche Bank building. The Joyce Theater is the primary tenant for the performing arts center, but it is quite likely to be joined by at least one other group so as to make the most of the space.
A committee of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation on Wednesday recommended that the corporation allocate up to $100 million for the performing arts center planned for ground zero. The money would come from a pool of some $200 million formerly designated for utility companies. At the corporation’s Wednesday board meeting, Kate D. Levin, the New York City cultural affairs commissioner, said the money was important “to fulfill this critical part of the master plan.”

The financing, which requires approval by the full board, would add to $50 million in federal money set aside for the project, which is controlled by the development corporation. Still unresolved is whether to build the performing arts center on the World Trade Center site, as called for in the master plan, or at 130 Liberty Street, site of the former Deutsche Bank building. The center’s primary tenant is to be the Joyce Theater, which presents dance.

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