Bush Admin OKs Repairing Buildings in Lower Manhattan

Wed August 27, 2003 - Northeast Edition

Several projects designed to improve the quality of life for people living and working in Lower Manhattan got the green light recently by Housing and Urban Development Secretary Mel Martinez. Managed by the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC), the $156-million post-9/11 plan will provide funding to improve public parks and open spaces, to make street improvements and to provide to more pedestrian-friendly access in Lower Manhattan.

In addition, the plan will supplement a program to provide grants to businesses adversely impacted by the terrorist attacks nearly two years ago. The announcement is part of a total $3.4-billion HUD is providing in direct assistance to help struggling businesses, to provide residential incentives and to revitalize Lower Manhattan since the Sept. 11 attacks.

“Creating a place that is attractive and livable for residents, workers and businesses is critical in the overall plan to revitalize Lower Manhattan,” said Martinez. “This funding will help improve parks, create open green spaces and make these neighborhoods more pedestrian-friendly. In the end, it will ultimately create a part of this wonderful city anyone would be proud to call home.”

“The creation of open spaces and neighborhood parks will provide public facilities that add to the quality of life for all communities in Lower Manhattan, drawing residents and local workers to the area while capitalizing on downtown’s magnificent waterfront setting, unique architectural character and important historical context,” said Gov. George E. Pataki. “The approval of these funds and the LMDC Action Plan by HUD will allow for the implementation of the first in a series of improvements I outlined in April, making this neighborhood an even greater place in which to live, work and visit.”

New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg stated, “These funds will help to make Lower Manhattan a more livable environment for both those who work and live there. In addition, the increased funding for the WTC Business Recovery program will help create and preserve jobs and small businesses in Lower Manhattan.”

This latest “action plan” will include $69.4 million in short-term capital projects such as park improvements and open space development; $74.5 million for the World Trade Center Business Recovery Program including:

• a $9.5-million transfer from the undersubscribed Employee Training Assistance Program;

• $13.9 million in long-term planning for the redevelopment of Lower Manhattan; and,

• $7.8 million for planning and administration.

Short-Term Capital Projects

LMDC’s Short-Term Capital Program will provide immediate relief to residents, businesses, workers and visitors by improving accessibility in and around Lower Manhattan and by enhancing the quality of life in surrounding neighborhoods. The short-term capital projects include the following:

• Downtown Alliance Streetscape Program. This program will make street and sidewalk improvements around the World Trade Center site as well as to both sides of Broadway from Battery Park to City Hall Park.

• New York Stock Exchange Area improvements. This effort will replace unsightly and temporary security barricades and checkpoints with more attractive street furniture, bollards, barriers and fences. These improvements will more effectively secure the area as well as facilitate pedestrian and vehicular traffic within the historic core of Lower Manhattan.

• Neighborhood Parks and Open Spaces. Enhanced parks and new green spaces across Lower Manhattan’s residential neighborhoods will be created to simulate redevelopment by providing attractive public facilities for residents, businesses and workers.

• West Street Pedestrian Connections. This project will construct a temporary pedestrian bridge near the intersection of Vesey and West streets and provide enhancements to the existing bridge and walkway at Liberty Street.

WTC Business Recovery Program

The WTC Business Recovery Grant Program will provide much needed additional funding for an existing program managed by the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC). This program has provided critical support to businesses suffering in the wake of the terror attacks. Due to aggressive outreach and public awareness campaigns the demand for business assistance under ESDC’s Business Recovery Grant Program exceeded the program’s allocation. It’s expected that the increased funding will particularly help more than 2,500 small businesses to create or retain thousands of jobs in Lower Manhattan. Included in this program, $9.5 million will be transferred from the underutilized Employee Training Assistance Program to further supplement the oversubscribed Business Recovery Grant Program.

Long Term Planning

LMDC’s long-term planning provides funds to plan for public improvements that will position Lower Manhattan as a major transportation gateway to the region and to the world. This strategic plan also would transform public boulevards into grant promenades, improve commuter and airport access and create a more pedestrian-friendly West Street.

In addition to the funding announced, Martinez recently announced a $50-million plan to produce more than 300 affordable housing units in Lower Manhattan and to help low- to middle-income working families live in Lower Manhattan.

For more information, visit www.RenewNYC.com.