By  on September 30, 2005

NEW YORK — The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey on Thursday detailed plans to open 500,000 square feet of retail space in and around Ground Zero, beginning in 2010.

The new retail areas will partially replace the 425,000-square-foot shopping concourse beneath the World Trade Center, which was a productive mall before it was destroyed in the September 11 terrorist attacks. Prior to the attack, some chains said the center housed their top-performing stores.

While there still are no signs of retail at Ground Zero, state officials on Thursday asked the port authority to accelerate its latest initiative.

The plan consists of 200,000 square feet of retail primarily in the World Trade Center transportation hub and pedestrian concourses. This phase of the project is expected to open in 2010.

The second phase calls for 300,000 square feet of retail along Church Street, where visitors now stand to view Ground Zero. Steve Coleman, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, said the Church Street area, where Towers Three and Four will eventually be built, will feature the same types of retailers as there were before the attack — moderate specialty shops and restaurants.

"The entire retail program is a work in progress," said Coleman.

Edward Hogan, a leasing executive at Brookfield Properties, called downtown Manhattan "the most underserved retail district in the nation."

A Downtown Alliance study calculated $1.4 billion in unmet retail demand in the area. In addition, the residential component of lower Manhattan is changing with the plethora of luxury rentals and condos that have come on the market in recent years. The average household income of residents is nearly $140,000.

"There are 280,000 people working within 1 square mile," said Hogan. "The concourse at the World Trade Center didn't do $900 a square foot because of the workers in the Twin Towers. It did it because of the neighborhood."

Hogan said retailers that never considered opening a store downtown are now taking a look. "These are Madison Avenue-type tenants," he said.

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