Missing for 60 Years, a Bit of Cortlandt Street Will ReturnOct 25, 2012
Cortlandt Street in Lower Manhattan was where demolition began in 1965 for what was to become the World Trade Center. Then the street itself was sacrificed, for three blocks, to help create an unbroken 16-acre site for the twin towers. In four months, however, workers will begin restoring one of the missing blocks of Cortlandt Street, between Church and Greenwich Streets, as Cortlandt Way.
Cortlandt Way will be a hybrid; not entirely restricted but not exactly public, either. Much like an ordinary street downtown, it will be a canyon among skyscrapers. But it will be owned and controlled by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. (Don’t look for sidewalk souvenir vendors.) Cortlandt Way will be closed to traffic but open to pedestrians, preferably those with money to shop.
And it will be open to the sky.
That’s the biggest difference between the Cortlandt Way that is to be built and the Cortlandt Way that the Port Authority planned in 2005. The idea then was to enclose the entire street in glass and run bridges over it for retail space. In other words, it was to have been a galleria-style mall. City officials objected, saying that a structure of any kind – particularly one crisscrossed with footbridges – would cut off views of the 9/11 Memorial from Greenwich Street and would defeat the purpose of restoring elements of the old street grid.
In 2006, the Port Authority acceded. Cortlandt Way would be an open-air walkway framed by 10,500 square feet of retail space at the base of 4 World Trade Center and 5,000 square feet of retail space at the base of 3 World Trade Center, which would also have a large entrance lobby leading to the World Trade Center Transportation Hub, designed by Santiago Calatrava.
Cortlandt Way will be about 300 feet long, tapering from 65 feet wide at Church Street to 51 feet wide at Greenwich Street. It will also descend slightly, by a grade of about 4 percent.
Last week, the authority board approved an $11.2 million contract with T.B. Penick & Sons of San Diego to build Cortlandt Way. With its affiliate, Triton Structural Concrete, Penick recently reconstructed the Coney Island Boardwalk. The companies were also responsible for a 480,000-square-foot landscaping project at the CityCenter complex in Las Vegas.
“The density and complexities of the CityCenter project were very similar to the conditions at the World Trade Center site,” Steve Coleman, a spokesman for the Port Authority, wrote in an e-mail.
The work, to begin next February and run through July 2015, includes the paving of the street with black granite from Babbitt, Minn., and granite cobbles from Green County, Ga.
PWP Landscape Architecture of Berkeley, Calif., is the designer of Cortlandt Way, as well as the landscape designer of the 9/11 Memorial across Greenwich Street. The trees chosen for Cortlandt Way, thornless honeylocusts, are intended to complement the swamp white oaks of the memorial, creating a green veil through which the memorial can be viewed from Church Street.
The streetscape design was reviewed and approved by Amanda M. Burden, the director of the City Planning Department.
The greatest private beneficiary of Cortlandt Way will be the Westfield Group of Sydney, Australia, an international shopping center operator that is developing more than 450,000 square feet of retail space at the World Trade Center in a joint venture with the Port Authority.