- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 16, 2002

NEW YORK (AP) Sixty- to 70-story office buildings, stores, cultural centers and a memorial to the dead are included in six proposals for the World Trade Center site to be released today.

Officials familiar with the proposals said all six would replace the 11 million square feet of office and retail space lost in the September 11 attacks with a cluster of buildings much shorter than the 110-story twin towers.

The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, also said each version includes a substantial memorial to the victims. But they said only four of the plans set aside the "footprint" of the towers for a memorial a key demand of many victims' families.

The six plans are rough drafts, not detailed architectural renderings, and represent the first in what could be a contentious series of steps to redevelop the 16-acre site. A final design is set to be selected in December.

"This is the starting point for dialogue," said Matthew Higgins, spokesman for the Lower Manhattan Development Corp., the city-state agency charged with redeveloping the site. "The next step is to actively engage the public through as many different forums as possible."

Although the plans have been seen by only a few developers, planners and government officials, they already have stirred some response.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg called them a start.

"I've got my own ideas, which I will certainly write to them," said Mr. Bloomberg, who encouraged others to do the same.

Some victims' relatives initially called for the site to be set aside as a memorial, but many now say they will be satisfied with a memorial covering several acres, including the footprint of the towers.

"Where Tower 1 and Tower 2 stood is sacred ground," said Joseph Maurer, a retired firefighter whose daughter, Jill Campbell, died in the trade center. "It's the same as Gettysburg or Pearl Harbor."

One official said the proposals also include space for theaters and museums. These preliminary plans do not specify particular tenants, but there has been speculation that the Museum of the City of New York and the New York City Opera could find new homes at the site.

None of the plans calls for housing on the 16-acre tract, but they do suggest that damaged office buildings along the periphery be razed for housing or converted to apartments. Several large office buildings near the trade center are so damaged that they remain vacant.

The proposals are to be released by the development corporation and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the land. They will be on public display for several weeks and posted on the development corporation's Web site.

It is expected that 5,000 people will discuss the plans at a meeting on Saturday.

The development corporation and the Port Authority will narrow the six land-use proposals down to three by September, then choose one.

Allen Morrison, a spokesman for the Port Authority, said the final plan could include elements of all six of the early drafts.

"This is not a process of elimination," he said. "It's more a process of evaluating what are the best attributes of all six of the preliminary plans, and we'll try with our consultants to come back with three new plans based on the comments we get, and then we'll do it again."

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