Big ideas abound in Lower Manhattan

But which will become reality?

Dec.December 28, 2009 08:17 PM

Development in Lower Manhattan, perhaps more than anywhere else in the city, is characterized by big ideas. The biggest and most obvious developments are related to Ground Zero, a site that at present is more notable for its building delays than its progress. Still, prominent World Trade Center-related projects, including the September 11th Memorial, are expected to be finished within the next few years.

Beyond the World Trade Center, big Lower Manhattan projects underway include the construction of the tallest residential tower in the city and work on the East River Waterfront. Other developments, such as towers near the Battery Tunnel and the redevelopment of the South Street Seaport, have fallen victim to the down market.

Here are some of the plans floating around that, if brought to fruition, would fundamentally alter Lower Manhattan.

(See below for The Real Deal’s list of projects planned for Lower Manhattan. Click map to view larger PDF.)

1. Ground Zero
Ground Zero

While deadlines connected to Ground Zero rebuilding have proven to be fluid, the World Trade Center Memorial is due to open Sept. 11, 2011, and One World Trade Center — formerly known as the Freedom Tower — is scheduled for completion in late 2013. The fate of a number of Ground Zero developments, such as the Santiago Calatrava-designed PATH Station, remain unclear. Meanwhile, the end is still not in sight for the troubled demolition of the Deutsche Bank tower at 130 Liberty Street.

2. South Street Seaport Redevelopment

Whither South Street Seaport? Seaport operator General Growth Properties unveiled a plan in 2008 to add a high-rise apartment building, a hotel and a new mall. But the company filed for bankruptcy protection in April and news reports surfaced speculating that it was trying to unload the Seaport. The New York Times reported last spring that the Seaport redevelopment plans would survive the Chapter 11 filing, but officials at General Growth did not return calls from The Real Deal. A spokesperson for the Department of City Planning said the company had not submitted the paperwork to begin public review. Stay tuned.

3. Greenwich Street Extension

Developing Greenwich Street South may be getting a new life. Visions for the stretch south of the World Trade Center include thousands of new apartments over and around the entrance to the Battery Tunnel, made possible by decking the area. The Downtown Alliance has promoted extending Greenwich Street as an uninterrupted thoroughfare from Battery Park through the World Trade Center. That plan essentially calls for a new neighborhood complete with green space and public art. But at this point, it remains an idea.

4. Development north of the Battery Tunnel

Two high-profile skyscrapers planned immediately to the north of the tunnel, 111 Washington Street and 50 West Street, are currently stalled. Both were planned as hotel-condo combinations. Developer Time Equities, which held a groundbreaking for 50 West Street in mid-2008, declined to comment on the status of the project.

5. Southbridge Towers privatization
Southbridge Towers

Southbridge Towers, the 1,651-unit Mitchell-Lama co-op near the Seaport, home to more than 3,000 residents, is likely to hold a vote this year about whether to end its relationship with the state-sponsored affordable housing program. A state spokesperson confirmed to The Real Deal that it stands to be the largest Mitchell-Lama co-op privatization in the history of Manhattan. If owners take the privatization plunge, the move would greatly increase the availability of free-market, for-sale residential inventory.

6. Battery Maritime Building rehabilitation

Remember this? In 2007, the Dermot Co. got the rights to redevelop the Battery Maritime Building, the landmark structure next to Whitehall Ferry. The former transportation hub is slated to see a $150 million renovation with a new, three-story glass hotel addition. The Great Hall would be transformed into an event space. The City Council approved the redevelopment in March, but the project’s future was reportedly uncertain since Dermot hadn’t secured all the financing. Dermot declined to comment on the redevelopment’s status. An EDC spokesperson said: “We’re working with the developer to move the project forward.”

7. Fulton Street Transit Center

The transit hub near the World Trade Center is on track to be done in 2014 — seven years after its original projected completion date in 2007. It will ultimately cost $1.4 billion, nearly twice the original estimate for the project. The hub will feature a large glass dome and an underground concourse linking to the Santiago Calatrava-designed PATH station at the World Trade Center.

8. Beekman Tower construction
Beekman Tower

The 76-story Beekman Tower at 8 Spruce Street topped off in November. The Frank Gehry-designed high-rise will be the tallest residential building in the city. Developed by Forest City Ratner, it was originally planned as a mix of rentals and condos, but Forest City ultimately made all 900 units luxury rentals. It should be complete in 2011.

9. East River Waterfront makeover

A new section of the East River Waterfront would stretch from the Battery Maritime Building to the Lower East Side. The two-mile-long stretch of park designed by architecture firm ShoP is slated to have pedestrian and bicycle lanes and several reconstructed piers. This phase of the waterfront’s redevelopment broke ground last year.


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