New Pedestrian Plaza Eyed for Site Near World Trade Center

The vacant 7,000-square-foot lot at Green­wich and Albany streets served as a queuing area for the Sept. 11 Memorial. Now it is being considered for a pedestrian plaza and Greenmarket. Photo: Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib

Jul. 07, 2014

A newly vacant, 7,000-square-foot lot near the World Trade Center site may be on its way to becoming a pedestrian plaza with seating and tables, greenery, film screenings and, eventually, the long-awaited return of a neighborhood Greenmarket.

The block-long space at Albany Street between Washington and Greenwich—part of a larger, 32,000-square-foot lot known as Site 5—served as the queuing area for ticketed visitors to the September 11 Memorial. The space was vacated on May 15, when the September 11 Museum opened and visitors gained free access to the plaza. 

On July 1, the Lower Manhattan Development Corp reacquired the space from the Memorial and, along with the city and the Downtown Alliance, is pondering its future use.

First and foremost, that appears to be a Greenmarket, also favored by Community Board 1.

But if they build it, will they come?

To test the foot traffic for an eventual Greenmarket, officials from the city’s Department of Transportation and the Downtown Alliance told CB1's Financial District Committee last week that they are working to close the nearby Washington Street Plaza, between Carlisle and Albany streets, and create a new plaza in the former queuing area.

“We think that by moving tables and chairs into the space, and moving some of the planters into the space, activating it with games, movies and other things like that, the community could start to embrace it,” Dan Ackerman, the Alliance’s chief of staff, told the committee. He added that the Alliance would like to see market stalls “right to the edge of the site on Greenwich Street.”

The Washington Street Plaza was created in May, 2013 to mitigate the congestion caused by the crowds waiting to walk onto the memorial plaza. “Now that the memorial plaza is opened to the public, pedestrians have a few points of access, so they no longer have to queue up at Site 5 and congest the area on Albany between Washington and Greenwich,” Jennifer Leung, a DOT project manager, wrote in an email to the Trib.

Laura McDonald, a spokeswoman for the GrowNYC Greenmarkets, would not comment on the status of a Greenmarket for the site, beyond saying in a statement to the Trib that GrowNYC is “working with the Community Board and several community organizations that service the area to determine the best way to activate the space.”

A Greenmarket at the World Trade Center served workers and residents for years before the Sept. 11 attacks.

Long-term plans for the entire Site 5 remain uncertain.

A “general project plan” for the space, formerly occupied by the demolished Deutche Bank Building, calls for a 1.3-million-square-foot office tower. That plan would not be feasible with the already excessive supply of office space in the area, David Emil, president of the Lower Manhattan Development Corp., told CB1's Executive Committee last month. The future of the site, he said, depends largely on public feedback.