From The Mayor’s Desk ...
In December 2002, I set out our Administration’s vision for transform-ing Lower Manhattan into a vibrant commercial and residential community. Revitalizing the World Trade Cen-ter site is the most significant part of that plan—but it’s only part. Our blueprint calls for knitting together Lower Manhattan’s fabric of life by investing in great public spaces… creating and supporting neighborhoods …and improving Downtown’s mass transit links to the region and the world.
Over the last two and half years, we’ve moved forward on every element of that vision. And clearly, we’re seeing results. Downtown’s population continues to grow, the commercial vacancy rate continues to fall, and the area teems with visitors—including thousands of sailors, Marines, and members of the Coast Guard here for Fleet Week. And last week, we joined Governor George Pataki in allocating more than $800 million in Federal funds for projects that will continue to make Lower Manhattan an even greater place to live, work, and visit.
Building on the $96 million in open space improvements we’ve already made, we will, for example, invest an-other $240 million in Lower Manhat-tan parks and open spaces. That will include developing the Tribeca section of the Hudson River Park, as well as opening up Downtown’s East River waterfront to greater public use and enjoyment with a new shoreline espla-nade, bikeway, and other attractive recreational opportunities.
We’ll also make major investments in Lower Manhattan neighborhoods. To bring more shoppers and lunch-time visitors to Chinatown, we’ll build a new pedestrian walkway between Chatham Square and the City Hall area. To help Downtown families with school-age children, we’ll create a new 600-seat elementary and middle school on Beekman Street. By creating attrac-tive new streetscapes and restoring historic building facades, we see Fulton Street becoming Downtown’s new “Main Street.” As the site of up to 2,700 new apartments, Greenwich Street south of the World Trade Center site will become a whole new community. And because it must be home to people of all income levels, we expect to commit $50 million to preserving and creating affordable housing in Downtown neighborhoods.
Lower Manhattan’s major transpor-tation projects, from the ongoing reconstruction of the South Ferry sub-way station to the expected groundbreaking for the new PATH terminal, are all moving forward. To support them, we’re going to take a fresh look at the way that pedestrians and vehicles use Downtown streets, and also continue to improve traffic circulation around the New York Stock Ex-change.
The biggest investment we’re mak-ing—$300 million—is for establishing the World Trade Center Memo-rial. Called “Reflecting Absence,” it will be a moving tribute to all those we lost on 9/11. This Memorial Day, I reflected deeply on their absence, and also all prayed for the success, safety, and swift return home of those who continue to defend us and our way of life.