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Six options offered to rebuild Ground Zero

From Phil Hirschkorn
CNN New York Bureau

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Balancing competing goals for redevelopment and a victims' memorial, six preliminary plans for rebuilding the grounds of the World Trade Center and its adjacent areas were unveiled Tuesday.

The Lower Manhattan Development Corp., formed by New York Gov. George Pataki in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, commissioned the proposals for the 16-acre site.

"We will rebuild. It is now not a question of whether, but a question of how," said LMDC Chairman John Whitehead as he introduced the preliminary proposals at Manhattan's historic Federal Hall National Memorial overlooking Wall Street.

The plans call for four to six office towers, ranging from 32 to 85 stories, and 600,000 square feet of retail space.

In each scheme, several acres would be devoted for a permanent memorial to the nearly 2,900 known victims of the attacks and the six victims of the 1993 Trade Center bombing, whose memorial was destroyed.

Half the plans would set aside the acre-wide footprints of the Twin Towers as part of the memorial park.

"Building heights are high, buildings are big [in the plans], but so were the World Trade Center [towers]. These buildings aren't as big as the World Trade Center, because it's not likely that they could be marketable in today's economy," said Jack Beyer, a partner of Beyer Blinder Belle.

CNN's Jason Carroll provides an overview of six preliminary plans to rebuild the site where the World Trade Center towers once stood (July 16)

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Watch animations of proposed plans for the World Trade Center site in Lower Manhattan. (July 16)

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View plans for the World Trade Center site 
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The architectural and urban planning firm was chosen seven weeks ago to compose the designs. The firm's previous restoration projects include Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan, the Ellis Island National Museum, and the U.S. Capitol.

Whitehead vowed the results "will not be a solid block of boring buildings."

"They're practical and they can be beautiful," he said.

After a public comment period, the LMDC will refine the proposals into three options by mid-September, hoping to settle on one master plan by year's end. Simultaneously, a design competition for the memorial component will get under way.

The preliminary plans are meant to address a broad range of business needs as well as to rehabilitate the city's downtown transportation infrastructure damaged by the attacks.

"It re-establishes Lower Manhattan as the nation's third-largest business district. It provides for bringing back the jobs we've lost," said Katherine Wylde, president of the New York City Partnership and Chamber of Commerce.

The first signs of redevelopment should be visible this fall with the restoration of damaged city subway lines and train routes connecting to New Jersey.

Completed in 1973, each of the 110-story towers contained 4.8 million square feet of rentable space.

Another 1.4 million square feet were in the complex's smaller buildings, numbered 4 World Trade Center, 5 World Trade Center and 6 World Trade Center.

No. 3 World Trade Center was a 600,000 square foot hotel and will be replaced in the site plans, sources said.

Heated debates are expected in the coming weeks over the planners' concessions for residential housing, expanded park space and new cultural sites, such as an opera house.

"Nobody knows what any building would look like," Bloomberg said last weekend. "You have to see who wants to rent or buy and when the economy really needs them. I think you're seeing the democratic process working exactly the way it should."

The period of public discussion will go forward Saturday when as many as 5,000 people are expected to meet in a Manhattan convention center to discuss and vote on various options.

A previous session in February found a consensus for a mixed-used development of the site.

"We have not considered all the possibilities yet, nor have we discovered all the answers, but we're committed to seeking them out with the help of the public," said LMDC President Lou Tomson.

"We are certain of one thing -- what we create together will be a testament to consistent with the principle that came under attack on September 11: democracy," he said.

The LMDC shares decision-making power with the Port Authority, presided over by Pataki and New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey.

Pataki appointed half the LMDC board of directors. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani chose the other members.

No new buildings are expected to be ready for occupancy before 2005, Whitehead has said.


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