2020 Roundtable

Strategic Investments in Lower Manhattan Can Help Ensure YC’s Global Competitiveness for the Long Term — March 5, 2009


Downtown 2020, a major report that offers comprehensive recommendations for planning, development, and investment in Lower Manhattan, will be released and discussed at a by-invitation-only forum at 7 World Trade Center on April 7.

The report was prepared by a multidisciplinary team of researchers convened by the Newman Real Estate Institute at Baruch College, CUNY.

Members of the research team will speak at the April 7 forum, and representatives of the public and private sectors will offer their perspectives, including Joel Ettinger, Executive Director of the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council; Elizabeth H. Berger, President, Alliance for Downtown New York; Avi Schick, Chairman, Lower Manhattan Development Corporation; and Larry Silverstein, President and CEO of Silverstein Properties, the developer of 7WTC and of three other towers to be constructed at the World Trade Center site.

The report’s aim is a sustainable, prosperous future for Downtown and for the larger core business district of which it is a part — historically the city’s engine of growth. Intended to stimulate dialogue and inform future civic and business planning decisions, the report presents rigorous analyses of economic, transportation, and urban design issues; six strategic principles to guide public and private investment; and dozens of practical recommendations for implementing them.

The report is made particularly timely by the recent erosion of the district’s economy and the prospect of an infusion of federal infrastructure funding for the city.

Undertaken in 2008 by a multidisciplinary team of researchers, under economic conditions very different from those prevailing today, the report has been supplemented with a 2009 addendum, “Going Long on NYC: The Case for Strategic Investments in Downtown’s Bedrock Assets.”

The addendum updates some data and assessments but affirms the report’s underlying optimism that, over the long term, positive fundamental forces shaping the New York region and its core will persist and prevail.

And, the Newman Institute’s director, Jack S. Nyman, observes, the report’s vision of a sustainable, prosperous future, its articulation of strategic principles to guide investment, and its rigorous framework for complementary analyses remain a valuable resource that can inform future planning decisions. “To help New York remain globally competitive, City officials and the business community must apply all the intellectual resources they can muster,” he states. “We’re pleased to be able to contribute to this effort.”

To produce Downtown 2020, experts in planning, economics, transportation, and urban design assessed Downtown’s prospects within larger economic contexts, projected economic and demographic trends out to 2020, examined how they might shape requirements for work and life downtown, and imagined an optimal, achievable, sustainable future. The researchers offer dozens of practical recommendations for implementing the strategic principles. Some would be relatively easy, affordable, and visible — such as upgrading lighting and signage and introducing more greenery. Some would entail “addition by subtraction,” such as altering the “economically ridiculous” toll pattern that drives heavy truck traffic across Canal Street. Some, particularly major transportation upgrades, would require the kind of large, long-term capital investments that federal funding could figure in.

The forum, to be hosted jointly by the Newman Institute and the Zicklin School of Business, Baruch College, CUNY, will be held on April 7 from 8:30 a.m. — 11:00 a.m. on the 45th floor of 7 World Trade Center, at 250 Greenwich Street, New York, NY 10007.

So that the report and addendum can be widely circulated, the Institute has posted them as free downloads on its web site, at www.baruch/cuny.edu/realestate.

The Steven L. Newman Real Estate Institute addresses issues important to the real estate industry and public policy, through interdisciplinary applied research and public events. It also offers non-degree courses in real estate. Its curriculum includes a new Certificate in Sustainability program.