91/11/2001: The Day That Changed America
WTC Future
A New Vision for Downtown New York
By Amy Miller

More than 5,000 people attended a historic 21st-century town-hall meeting recently to consider plans for the World Trade Center. Attendants said the six plans offered were not adequate, and the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has gone back to the drawing board. (Photo: Stuart Ramson/AP WideWorld)
Rebuilding the 16 acres of land where the World Trade Center once stood won't be easy. The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, set up by New York Governor George Pataki, will officially oversee rebuilding of the site. But any plan the agency approves will have to meet the needs of many different groups and individuals.

The victims' families want to build a memorial on the site. Real-estate developers, and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the site, want to make sure that the new World Trade Center has plenty of space for stores and offices. Others want the site to become a major transportation hub.

In July, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation unveiled six plans for rebuilding Ground Zero. Each called for a memorial, office and store space, and a new transportation complex, but they varied widely in detail. One called for a sweeping promenade, or walkway. Some plans would build on the footprints of the former towers, and others would not.

The public's reaction to the plans, however, was hardly enthusiastic. Many said they lacked imagination and vision.

"All the plans should be abandoned," said Beverly Willis, an architect and co-founder of Rebuild Downtown Our Town. "There's no heart in them."

Willis said she and others who live in downtown Manhattan think any plan for rebuilding the World Trade Center should revitalize the entire neighborhood, not just the original 16 acres. Many nearby businesses are struggling, she said, because fewer people live and work downtown now. "We need schools, markets, clothing stores," said Willis. "We need more than a memorial."

Others said the plans did not consider the environment.

"The site should use energy like solar, water, and wind more efficiently," said Eileen Morales of the Civic Alliance to Rebuild Downtown New York, a coalition of business, environmental, and community groups. "That's the best memorial this site could be. It could be something to give us all more life and enjoyment."

The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation has agreed to call for new proposals from other designers. Even if the agency does approve a plan in the near future, it may take years for actual construction to begin. A lot of repair work still needs to be done underground. "People will have to be patient," said John Whitehead, chairman of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation.