As cleanup and recovery at Ground Zero
near completion, you still have to squint
-- or dream -- to envision what eventually
will become of the world's most famous 16
But you can see this much: Whatever is
built on the site of the World Trade
Center will not resemble the colossus it
replaces, nor make a mark on the skyline,
nor assume final shape for at least a
Today, the agency created to supervise the
redevelopment is scheduled to announce its
process for developing plans. Meanwhile,
many of the interested parties -- elected
officials, city planners, business
leaders, property owners, community groups
and victims' relatives -- have begun to
agree on a rough outline of what should
The site, which could be cleared next
month, probably will have a mixture of
not-too-tall office buildings, apartment
houses, street-level stores, a museum or
theater or both, a park and a memorial to
the nearly 3,000 people killed here Sept.
The redevelopment program remains vague,
which has prompted complaints in this
notably impatient city. In an editorial
last week, The New York Times bemoaned ''a
lack of focus'' by the agency created by
the state and city, the Lower Manhattan
Development Corp., to oversee the
Others say the project is so large, the
attendant feelings so raw, and the
interested parties so many that speed
would only produce proposals that would
founder on politics or litigation.
''This is the most emotionally charged
city planning issue I've ever seen,'' says
Robert Yaro, director of the Regional Plan
Association. ''It's one of the most
ambitious public works projects in
American history, and the future of the
nation's third-largest business district
is at stake. You can't rush it.''
It took five years, he points out, to
create a memorial to those who died in the
Oklahoma City federal building bombing in
More than 30 years ago, the World Trade
Center was imposed on the city by a small
group of planners backed by a powerful
patron, Gov. Nelson Rockefeller. The seven
buildings making up the center flooded the
area with 13.5 million square feet of
office space, destroyed the neighborhood
on the site and cut off part of Lower
Manhattan from the rest of the city.
The World Trade Center, with tens of
thousands of workers, went on to become a
global landmark, but virtually no one
wants anything like it again.
Whatever gets built on the site probably
will incorporate several ideas that seem
to have broad support, according to people
close to the planning process:
* No new twin
After the 110-story towers fell, some
urged rebuilding them as a rebuff to
terrorists. Now that view is virtually
dead among decisionmakers.
''The way to fight terrorism is not to
rebuild big, but to rebuild better,'' says
Bruce Fowle, a New York architect who
helped write an influential report on the
subject. ''You want to create a better
place than the one you had.''
That suggests a site that is much less
densely developed. It would have only
two-thirds or half of the Trade Center's
total floor space, according to Richard T.
Anderson, president of the New York
Building Congress, a trade group.
Larry Silverstein, the landlord who leases
the Trade Center site from the Port
Authority of New York and New Jersey, has
said he favors building four towers of 50
But to make an impression on the skyline
-- to have something people can point to
from afar as having replaced the twin
towers -- a building would have to rise at
least 75 stories.
That seems unlikely any time soon. Lower
Manhattan now has about 14 million square
feet of vacant office space. And companies
displaced on Sept. 11 have moved about
17,000 jobs to New Jersey.
Groundbreaking at 7 WTC.
Silverstein says he will break ground this
year for an office building just north of
Ground Zero, on part of the site where the
47-story 7 World Trade Center stood. That
building collapsed about eight hours after
the twin towers.
The new building reportedly will rise 700
feet -- the exact number of stories has
not been revealed -- but that would not
even make it among the five tallest
buildings in Lower Manhattan.
However, it would give officials a
building to point to while they figure out
what to do with the 16 acres to the south.
* A memorial,
but not all memorial.
The Sept. 11 memorial apparently will not
occupy the entire site, as proposed by
some victims' relatives and former mayor
Rudy Giuliani. But there is a growing
sentiment that the actual footprint of the
twin towers -- about one-eighth of the
site -- is sacred ground and should be
part of a memorial.
When the overall master plan for the site
is ready this year, there probably will be
an international competition to design the
The street grid that the Trade Center's
elevated plaza obliterated in the 1970s
probably will be restored to allow traffic
into and through the site. West Street, a
wide boulevard that forms the western
boundary, would be submerged into a
tunnel, creating additional surface space.
Subway lines would be reconfigured, and
moving walkways would make it easier to
move among ferries, the city subway and
the subway line to New Jersey. This would
take four to five years and cost several
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