NEW YORK CITY-Healthy servings of window dressing and hard-core redevelopment were served up yesterday as New York State Governor George E. Pataki laid out near- and long-term plans for rebuilding Lower Manhattan. At a press conference at the Downtown Ritz Carlton Hotel, Pataki committed to a 2006 topping out of the 1776-ft. Liberty Tower and a 2008 occupancy. In a major show of support, he also revealed that he would be moving his New York City offices from 633 Third Ave. to the tower to become the “first tenant.” Liberty Tower is the focal point of Studio Daniel Libeskind’s master plan to replace the World Trade Center.

But center stage at the conference was clearly the $4.6-billion creation of a transportation hub, designed to ease traffic through the rebuilt Lower Manhattan submarket. The real estate community has been speculating since the Sept. 11 2001 terrorist attacks on the scope and nature of a new transit center, and Pataki rose to their expectations.

He explained that the transportation plan would “Stand on four pillars: to create a new point of arrival that would equal Grand Central Terminal in size and scope and also serve as civic space; to untangle the web of subway lines that currently weaves throughout Lower Manhattan; to transform West Street into a tree-lined promenade; and to create a direct ferry and rail link to Long Island and JFK Airport.” The initial phase of the so-called Fulton Transit Center is slated for a 2006 opening as well, with ancillary transit construction–such as a PATH extension to Newark International Airport–stretching out to 2010.

Near term, Pataki also committed some $50 million in Lower Manhattan Development Corp. dollars to projects geared to improving accessibility and the quality of life in the area surrounding Ground Zero. Pledging that all of these projects would be completed within the year, he outlined plans for a new, enclosed bridge over West Street and an upgrade in the Liberty Street walkway.

The near-term programs also called for the replacement of what he called “the black shroud” over the Deutsche Bank building with a mural, and he called on the New York Stock Exchange and the LMDC to devise a security system that is more visitor-friendly than the current concrete barriers that surround the exchange.

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