March 26th - April 1st, 2004
Port Authority Plans Retail Space at WTC Site
Monday, March 29: One of the first retail locations at the WTC site to undergo construction may be at the southwest corner of Vesey and Church Streets -- where several city officials, including Community Board 1 Chairwoman Madelyn Wils, support the construction of a full-service department store, reported the New York Times.
Port Authority and planning officials have not made an official decision on the initiative, and continue to develop plans for the new WTC site's 650,000 square feet of available retail space.
According to the Times, the Port Authority -- which owns the WTC site and controls the retail lease -- plans to devise a tentative retail program, and issue a formal request for proposals from developers later this year.
Statue of Liberty Readies for Reopening
Wednesday, March 31: U.S. Secretary of the Interior Gale A. Norton and Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that the Statue of Liberty and its museum are expected to reopen to the public in August, said the New York Times. The statue, which has been closed to visitors since September 11, 2001, will undergo extensive safety and security renovations before it is reopened.
Norton, who spoke at a Liberty Island news conference, explained that although visitors will not be able to climb the narrow staircases to Lady Liberty's crown, they will be able to view her interior through a new glass ceiling, located above a 16-story observation deck within the statue's base, said the Times.
Over the past two years, the federal government has invested $19.6 million in safety and security improvements for the 118-year-old structure. The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation will contribute an additional $7 million in private donations, including Mayor Bloomberg's personal contribution of $100,000, for the remaining renovations, added the Times.
Downtown on the Rebound
Wednesday, March 31: Lower Manhattan continues to show signs of recovery since the 9/11 attacks, with area businesses and residential buildings posting increased growth rates, said the New YorkSun.
Based on real estate and city sources, downtown housing prices have increased an estimated 10%-12% over the past year due to high demand and increased construction of several luxury apartment buildings throughout the area.
Job recovery downtown also soared with the return of 78% of the estimated 9,900 jobs lost since 9/11. Additionally, a host of new stores opened their doors downtown since 2002, accounting for a 6%-8% jump in retail space, noted the Sun.
New York Water Taxi Takes Over Jersey City-Colgate Dock Service
Thursday, April 1: New York Water Taxi began operating the ferry route between Jersey City's Colgate docks and Pier 11 near Wall Street on Thursday -- a route formerly operated by NY Waterway, reported the Associated Press.
The service already provides transportation to 950 passengers between New Jersey and Lower Manhattan each weekday. Ridership is expected to increase this spring when financial firm Goldman Sachs opens a new office building along the Jersey City riverfront.
NY Waterway continues to operate 20 additional ferry routes to Manhattan, serving a total of 35,000 to 40,000 passengers each day, said the AP.
Panel Proposes Plan to Evaluate EPAs 9/11 Cleanup Efforts
Thursday, April 1: A 17-member panel convened for a public meeting on Wednesday to announce its plans to assess the effectiveness of the EPA's cleanup efforts downtown following the 9/11 attacks. The panel -- comprised of scientists, environmental experts, and one downtown resident -- will retest 250 to 1,000 of the 4,200 apartments cleaned and evaluated by the EPA in 2002 and 2003, reported the New York Times.
The EPA defended their efforts last week, citing a report on its indoor cleanup program that showed only 0.4 percent of samples taken from cleaned apartments exceeded federal health standards, noted the Times.
In related news, a bill introduced to Congress on Monday seeks to expand healthcare services to people -- those living or working in Lower Manhattan -- who were exposed to the dust plume resulting from the collapse of the WTC on 9/11.