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Thread: Bringing Back The Neighborhood

  1. #1

    Default Bringing Back The Neighborhood

    I'm an ex-New Yorker.
    For seven years,I lived in The Village,ultimately in a literal shadow of the Trade Centers (an actual shadow would have been impossible,since shadows of tall buildings in Lower Manhattan usually fall to the East/West,not North and over The Village,but,anyway...) and I used to loathe them.
    For several years,while the towers were being built,they were ugly twin skeletons on the horizon that never seemed to stop growing.From anywhere in The Village you HAD to see them,couldn't miss them.
    To worsen matters,I worked right across the damn street from the WTC site,and eventually the towers stole my view of the Harbor and the Statue.
    When they were complete,they were like a fractured wall blocking the view of the sky.
    They were plain,brutal and omnipresent,and if you lived anywhere near downtown they were just always...there,looming over everything,always popping into view from behind lesser skyscrapers or being framed by the Washington Square arch as you came down Fifth.

    I used to think they were boring and soulless,and wind-whipped wintertime walks across the barren stone plaza would always re-convince me of that as I rushed for the warmth of the Subway station.
    In time,I grew to grudgingly accept them and eventually began to actually LIKE them.After awhile they were just,you know,New York.And they were really monumental.

    By the time Battery Park City had become a huge apartment complex,WTC and it's Mall and the surrounding businesses had matured into an asset,something actually required for viable city living,and the whole soulless mass was finally a neighborhood,a real piece of New York,no longer just a couple of silver boxes on an empty plaza where even the hot dog vendors vanish at 6PM.There were plenty of restaurants and stores and the Downtown residential population had a variety of places to spend money.
    Just around the time it all came together and became a livable place--BAM !!!--and it's gone.

    Now the plans to revive the area are moving forward,and the greatest living architects--Foster,Calatrava,Childs,et al,are planning a skyscraper garden to replace what was taken away.The buildings proposed appear (to me,anyway) to be well designed,although they seem to borrow a lot from the contemporary Chicago School of Skyscraper Design.

    In the latest plan,a series of tall,silvery buildings will surround and enhance the iconic 1776' Freedom Tower.A performing arts center,a transit hub,the billion-dollar memorial and a number of smaller buildings will fill out the site.
    The towers,three of which will be taller than the Empire State Bldg,will replace WTC's stark verticality with a massing of individual towers,and the whole megastructure will be daunting,at the very least,to the mere pedestrian even as it becomes a destination again.Church Street will be re-imagined,this time with a skyscraper row.

    Yet,nowhere in the plan is a shopping district mentioned.Will there be a Mall again,or a large retail area included that will give the neighborhood amenities that evolved over 30 years back to it's residents?
    Will the needs of an actual neighborhood--something not even thought of when the Original Twins were designed--be met,with shops and restaurants and local business (like tailor shops,supermarkets,bakeries and movie screens) to be included in the development,or will it have to once again evolve,as the lost neighborhood of 9/11 once had to?

    Will the plazas be of brutalist stone,or will a park-like setting fill up the open areas between towers,linking the 16 acres to the parks around BPC and The Battery?
    What about parking?

    Nowhere have I seen any mention of this.

    I'd just like to know...

  2. #2

    Default

    My feelings toward the WTC evolved along the exact same trajectory as yours, Hof.

    I think there'll be a mall.

    In place of the WTC's arid plaza will rise (or more accurately, sink) two funereal holes, into which will plunge the headwaters of the River Styx.

  3. #3
    The Dude Abides
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    Default

    There should be more retail in the next incarnation of the WTC, nearly 600,000 square feet, I think.

    Instead of above-ground plazas and a below-grade mall, there will be above-ground atriums filled with shops and restaurants, and little, if any, "plaza space" surrounding the buildings (except, of course, for the centerpiece Memorial). The buildings should stand individually, rising up directly from the street (as most buildings do in Lower Manhattan).

    As for the content: from what I've heard, you won't see too many, if any, "local businesses": most of the new retail will be upscale, even moreso than the previous WTC mall. I don't think anything homely will pass the rent. There might be a movie theater, though we'll have to see if the one in BPC remains. Parking? Not sure, but I'd lean towards the negative because of the security threat.

    So, to answer your overall question: the needs of the community, as you define them, will probably not be met, in the sense that this new retail will not be, for the most part, "necessity" retail; most of it will be upscale, luxury goods, and high-end restaurants/services. Though it might sound disheartening to those of us who want to see more in the way of meeting "needs," I don't think it's inappropriate. One look at the median income of residents in Lower Manhattan will reconcile the loss of such retail in favor of gaining high rent-paying, upscale suburban mall-type shops and eateries.

  4. #4

    Default

    Wouldn't it be a perfect site for a Wal Mart???
    Another New York first.
    Accounting for demographics,an UPSCALE Wal Mart...

  5. #5
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Default

    Not ^^^

  6. #6
    Senior Member
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Hof View Post
    Wouldn't it be a perfect site for a Wal Mart???
    Another New York first.
    Accounting for demographics,an UPSCALE Wal Mart...

    Please God no

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