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Greenwich South — A Neighborhood Rejoins the City

by Charles Lauster Architect, P.C. on September 30, 2009

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Greenwich South — A Neighborhood Rejoins the City

CLAblogThis month the Downtown Alliance revealed a conceptual plan for reestablishing Greenwich Street in the World Trade Center site, thus reconnecting Battery Park and the West Side up to the Meat Packing District. The twin towers plaza interrupted Greenwich Street for over thirty years, isolating the blocks south of it. The focus of the study is on those blocks which they call Greenwich South. (The Alliance’s excellent web site http://www.downtownny.com/greenwichsouth packs a lot of history and urban planning ideas into a well organized package.)

The basic notion is that Greenwich Street string together the Meat Packing District, the West Village, Hudson Square, Tribeca, Greenwich South and Battery Park into a continuous Lower West Side. Moreover, new east/west connections would bring Battery Park City into the 24/7 life of a revitalized Greenwich South. By facilitating easy connections between areas of urban vitality and Downtown, normal incremental development should spread in underused areas . This is not a bold construction proposal but rather a simple planning move that lets the process that succeeded so well north of the WTC site flow to the south. Architecture Research Office, which organized the study, did propose some stunning structures but it is the simple street restoration that makes the planning work.

While the agonizingly slow return of the WTC site has been a trial, there are benefits to getting perspective on how west side development is unfolding. In 2001 the nature of the Meat Packing District and the fate of the High Line were not at all clear. Indeed, Tribeca was viewed with doom and gloom. Most of the planning impulses then were in response to the destruction and not on how to use the Lower West Side as leverage to enliven Downtown.

These last eight years have shown that almost all neighborhoods in Manhattan are experiencing more intense use and more energy. Most of this change has been block by block advancement of mixed uses. Greenwich South’s attachment to the Lower West Side will promote similar development. It has taken a long time, but a piece of the city is being fit back into place.

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