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Thursday, 12 December, 2002, 22:50 GMT
Mayor's plans for Lower Manhattan
A thin layer of snow covers the ground at the site of the World Trade Center in New York
The WTC masterplan is due to be presented next week

The mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, has outlined his vision for the future of Lower Manhattan, which was badly scarred during the 11 September attacks.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg
The mayor's ideas will take years and billions of dollars to complete
In a far-reaching plan, Mr Bloomberg announced a $10.5 billion scheme to rebuild the area around the site now known as Ground Zero.

Mr Bloomberg said he hoped to turn it into what he described as "a global hub of culture and commerce".

The mayor's long-awaited plan comes one week before seven new proposals for the redevelopment of the World Trade Center (WTC) site will be revealed to the public.

'Breathtaking speech'

Mayor Bloomberg said that no matter how great the ultimate design for the 16 acres of the WTC was, it still was not enough to guarantee a bright future for Lower Manhattan.

Artist's rendering of 7 World Trade Center
Plans for a new skyscraper at the WTC site have already been revealed

The whole of New York's financial district, he said, was in need of a new beginning.

The mayor's speech was breathtaking in scope and ambition.

He has envisaged new neighbourhoods and green open spaces to encourage families to move in.

Mr Bloomberg hoped that at least one new school could even be incorporated into the reconstruction of Ground Zero.

The mayor's ideas will take years and billions of dollars to complete.

A rail link to the city's main airport, JFK, would take nine years and cost $4bn alone.

He proposes to pay for all this through a combination of federal grants, insurance payouts and taxes from the redevelopment of Ground Zero.

The mayor said he expected to draw much criticism and scepticism in a city which is already financially strapped.

But he said history showed that it was often at moments when New York faced its biggest challenges that its greatest achievements were made.

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The BBC's Emma Simpson
"Mayor Bloomberg's plan is breathtaking in scope and ambition"

New York despatches

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