Mayor talks post-9/11 progress at Wall St. breakfast

BY CYTHIAN MAGNUS | Mayor Michael Bloomberg addressed an audience of approximately 800 on Tues., Sept. 6, at the Cipriani Wall Street hotel to discuss the growth and recovery of Lower Manhattan since the September 11 attacks.

At the breakfast event hosted by the Association for a Better New York (ABNY) William C. Rudin, ABNY chairman and CEO of Manhattan real estate firm Rudin Management, introduced Bloomberg who highlighted the progress Lower Manhattan has made in terms of lower crime and growth in population and commercial development. He cited the Financial District’s transformation from an area that was empty after the close of the business day into “a dynamic 24-7 community” aided by the creation of new housing, schools, parks and infrastructure to attract new businesses.

The mayor identified several recent commercial success stories as part of his audio-visual presentation on Tuesday morning. One was the business incubator “the Hive at 55,” started in 2009 to aid local entrepreneurs. Bloomberg also mentioned the zoning request by the Century 21 department store to expand by three more floors, and he praised the success of Stone Street, which he called “a Downtown restaurant row.”

Bloomberg noted that the number of people living in Lower Manhattan has nearly doubled in ten years, and more people are living here than at any time since 1920.

The mayor cited Pier 25 as “a great example of Lower Manhattan’s rebirth, and the rebirth of our waterfront,” and mentioned a $260 million investment in park construction and expansion. Bloomberg said that for the area to become a magnet for families the city needed to create more first-rate schools. He cited Millennium High School, opened in 2002 by the DOE with private donor support, as one of the city’s highest performing schools, and said that the city has added more than 4,000 classroom seats downtown in the past decade. Bloomberg mentioned the opening this week of the new public school in the Frank Gehry building on Spruce Street.

When asked after the mayor’s speech about the availability of public school seats, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer said, “While some important progress has been made in recent years — under the leadership of local representatives and community leaders — the neighborhood is still unprepared for the influx in new kindergarteners we can expect to come.” Stringer continued, “I look forward to working with community leaders and the city to find ways to meet this challenge head-on, but the first step is for the D.O.E. to recognize the scope of the problem.”

In his address, Bloomberg praised the efforts of the Tribeca Film Festival founders Robert DeNiro, Jane Rosenthal and Craig Hatkoff for helping to spur the economic and cultural revitalization Downtown, and lauded the growth since 2001 of space dedicated to arts and culture Downtown.

The mayor honored the efforts of those who worked at the site that was Ground Zero, and said that “the time has come for us to call those 16 acres what they are: The World Trade Center and the National September 11th Memorial and Museum.” He credited real estate developer Larry Silverstein for his efforts to rebuild the site, and the Port Authority’s executive director Christopher Ward for managing the rebuilding and sticking to deadlines. Bloomberg called the World Trade Center “the most complex construction site in the world.” He also praised the NYPD for its counter-terrorism operations.

Bloomberg said, “I fully expect that Lower Manhattan will continue to grow as a neighborhood, as a business district, as a creative community and as a destination for visitors.”