What Would You Do With Greenwich South?

GSThis week, the Downtown Alliance launched a visioning study of Greenwich South, the 41-acre trapezoid immediately south of the World Trade Center. You’ve probably never been there (or even knew you were there when you were), even if you live or work Downtown, and unless you’re an urban planner, you’ve probably have never even heard the name Greenwich South. That’s because this area has never really felt like part of Lower Manhattan, even though four of Downtown’s most dynamic areas – the World Trade Center site, Battery Park and Broadway – immediately border its 23 blocks. Over the next few months, we are going to use this blog to highlight different ideas we have for how to change both the perception that this area isn’t worth visiting and the realities that (sometimes) back up that assertion. Of course, if you want the whole story all at once, visit our new Web site: www.greenwichsouth.net.

When this project began, we knew that the redevelopment of the World Trade Center was going to radically change Greenwich South and we wanted to use the period of construction to think about how we could direct that change to dissolve the barriers between this area and its surroundings and benefit all of Lower Manhattan as much as possible. Looking at the site plan for the new World Trade Center, it became clear that the reconnection of Greenwich Street would, more than anything else, alter the experience of Greenwich South. All of a sudden, the most direct route between Battery Park and the World Trade Center Memorial, would run directly through Greenwich South. This was the opportunity that would drive Greenwich South’s future.

The more we thought about this connection, the bigger we realized the implications could be. Working with our consultants Architecture Research Office and Beyer Blinder Belle, we looked north beyond our district and saw that the great neighborhoods on the west side – TriBeCa, Hudson Square, the West Village, the Meatpacking District and Chelsea – lacked that one connecting street to link them together to create a larger concept of a “Lower West Side.” We realized that a reconnected Greenwich Street could not only tie those neighborhoods together, but it could begin to break down the barriers between them and Lower Manhattan.

The idea of Greenwich Street as a spine for the Lower West Side – anchored in Greenwich South – became a key tenet of our study. It allowed us to imagine Greenwich South as a “hinge” between the emerging arts districts to the north and the financial district of Wall Street – a place where we can test new strategies that bridge the gap between these sectors and invent new ways for people to work. And we began to envision Greenwich as the street that connects Manhattan’s oldest park, the Battery, to its two newest, the memorial and the High Line, maybe even with a new kind of dedicated surface transit system.

Pretty interesting, right? But as my old studio professor would always say, “So what?” These are really big ideas and admittedly, there’s no way to implement them right now. But that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to do today to start setting the stage for those bigger dreams. That’s why we’re working on some things we can do right now. But it is also why we’re looking to you to give us your input. What do you think should happen with Greenwich South? What do you dream Greenwich South could be? What if you could decide what happens with Greenwich South?

Look out for our next Greenwich South post in a few weeks, but in the meantime, check out our website, www.greenwichsouth.net, and let us know what you think should happen in Greenwich South by commenting or sending them to greenwichsouth@downtownny.com.