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NEW YORK CITY-The rotunda of Federal Hall in Downtown Manhattan teemed with reporters yesterday as the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey used the historic site to unveil six potential site-plan options for the World Trade Center redevelopment.

“We recognized that the Port Authority, which has ownership of the 16 acres the World Trade Center stood on, has certain rights,” commented LMDC chairman John C. Whitehead. “And we recognized that Silverstein has certain tenant rights. We looked carefully at ways to preserve those rights and build new and beautiful spaces. So far, we think it is possible to do so. If we conclude that we cannot rebuild [and honor those rights] we will change our plan.”

Those rights, the LMDC chief stated, were reflected in the dictate that each of the plans allow for 11 million sf of office space, a 600,000-sf hotel and 600,000 feet of retail space–all to replace the square footage lost on Sept. 11. In fact, one of the designs is based on ideas proposed by Silverstein Properties, although, Whitehead admitted, it has been greatly reworked.

In addition to this criteria, the options all had to incorporate other considerations as well. Each of the six plans had to include a permanent memorial, a transportation hub, off-site residential options and cultural and civic institutions. Public open space and a rebuilt St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church round out the design criteria. Despite Silverstein’s early desire for four 50-story buildings, skyscrapers, some ranging up to 85 stories, are included in all of the plans.

Beyond that, the options–all created by the LMDC based largely on public input and rendered by architect Beyer Blinder Belle–offer little in the way of architectural details, despite the public’s long wait for development decisions. In fact, the six designs were put forth only to spark further debate.

“These are site plans that do not represent architectural design,” Whitehead stated. “We are calling upon the public for feedback.”

It is conceivable that the final design will bear little resemblance to any of the six options. “Each one of these is a package of proposed ideas,” Whitehead stated. “They will be mixed and matched and reconstituted.”

The planning process calls for paring the six options down to three refined plans by September, and what is being termed a final draft will hit the streets in December. PA chairman Jack Sinagra vowed at the press conference that no construction will be done until a specific memorial space has been finalized.

To further encourage the public debate, the six designs will be on view at the Jacob Javits Center, where this coming Saturday, a town hall meeting will be held to gauge popular opinion. The options will also remain on display at Federal Hall, and the LMDC has launched a new website (www.renewnyc.com) where viewers can take in the plans.

Here is a summary of each of the six proposals (each, unless noted, calls for residential development south of Liberty Street):

Memorial Plaza: offers 18 acres of public space and five new towers (one at 79 stories, two at 67 stories and two at 62 stories). West Street would be tunneled below grade from Battery Park to Vesey Street.

Memorial Square: creates 24 acres of public space and four towers (one at 80 stories, two at 70 stories and one at 56 stories). West Street would again become a below-grade tunnel from Battery Park to Chambers Street. There was no specific call for residential development.

Memorial Triangle: features 13 acres of public space and six towers (one at 85 stories, one at 61 stories and four at 59 stories). West Street would be at grade with a pedestrian deck.

Memorial Garden: features four acres of open space and five towers (one at 80 stories, two at 66 stories and two at 50 stories). This proposal, according to Whitehead, is based on Silverstein’s wish list.

Memorial Park: provides 14 acres of public space with five towers (two at 72 stories and three at 45 stories). West Street would have a bypass tunnel from Albany to Vesey streets.

Memorial Promenade: calls for 28 acres of public space including a promenade that would extend to Battery Park. There would be six towers (two at 63 stories and four at 32 stories). West Street would be below grade to allow for the promenade.

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