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The Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC) was formed in July 2002, after the September 11 attacks to plan the reconstruction of Lower Manhattan and distribute nearly $10 billion in federal funds aimed at rebuilding downtown Manhattan.

It was founded by then-Governor George Pataki and then-Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. The LMDC is a joint State-City corporation governed by a 16-member Board of Directors, half appointed by the Governor of New York and half by the Mayor of New York. As a result, Pataki and Giuliani appointees dominate the LMDC. Its original chairman was John C. Whitehead, a former Deputy Secretary of State and head of Goldman Sachs.

LMDC does not own the World Trade Center site and this has created problems in its dealings with the owner — the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and Larry Silverstein who has a lease to the site. It is a subsidiary of the Empire State Development Corporation, which is a state authority which is used to implement various projects in the state that are not subject to Legislature or voter oversight.

The L.M.D.C. was funded through the disbursement of Community Development Block Grants-amounting to $2.783 billion-approved by the federal government in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks and resultant destruction of much of lower Manhattan's economic and structural base.

In February 2003, the LMDC chose Daniel Libeskind's master plan for the reconstruction of the World Trade Center complex. The organization also sponsored the international design competition for the World Trade Center Memorial, which resulted in Michael Arad and Peter Walker's Reflecting Absence being chosen as the winning design in January 2004.

Having distributed its funds, the LMDC in July 2006 announced plans to dissolve and transfer its responsibilities to other existing agencies and foundations, including the W.T.C. Memorial Foundation, and the Lower Manhattan Construction Command Center.

At times, the LMDC has been the subject of intense public criticism. Reasons for criticism include:

  • 1. Questions surrounding the proposed and long delayed September 11th memorial.
  • 2. A perception of its questionable handling of billions of dollars in taxpayer funds.
  • 3. The holding of a seemingly official design competition for the new WTC site without the authority to do so or the power to actually implement the winning design (Libeskind) as the new design for the project.

Two members of the LMDC's board have asserted that up to $45 million allocated to the LMDC from a "community enhancement" fund in May of 2005 has not been directly accounted for, and that up to $15 million from that stipend might have been spent in areas other than those it had been explicitly stipulated for.[1]

In May 2006, New York's Attorney General, Elliot Spitzer unequivocally condemned the LMDC as an "abject failure" in its capacity as an agent for rebuilding lower Manhattan. He also attributed the departure of Gretchen Dykstra from a group raising money for the World Trade Center memorial to a process where "there was nobody willing to make decisions."

Spitzer has had a longstanding feud with LMDC chairman John Whitehead.

Spitzer became Governor in 2007, rethought his condemnation, and announced a "reinvigorated LMDC" that would continue the revitalization of Lower Manhattan. Mayor Bloomberg welcomed the Governor's renewed interest at the time. However, in September 2008, Mayor Bloomberg condemned the LMDC as a contributor to the slow progress in rebuilding and he demanded dissolution of the LMDC[2].

LMDC in an effort to expand tranparency has begun twittering. [3]

See also

References

  1. ^ Shifting dollars, debatable legacy as L.M.D.C. approaches its final days
  2. ^ Mayor Seeks to Disband Lower Manhattan Panel
  3. ^ NY TimesWorld Tweet Center

External links

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