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Downtown info. center has all the answers.

A new Lower Manhattan community center offering free information on everything from downtown events to bank hours to restaurants to building owners' contacts opened at 25 Broad St., on September 4.

The Downtown Information Center was organized by Wall St. Rising, a non-for-profit group that was formed in October, 2001, dedicated to restoring Lower Manhattan confidence and vitality after the September 11 terrorist attacks.

The organization's 30,000 members are comprised of banks, financial institutions, small businesses, law firms and independent residents.

The goal of the center, said WSR founder and president Julie Menin, is to increase foot traffic in the downtown area and promote the community as a place still full of economic development and social activity.

Geared towards tourists as well as community residents and business owners, the center will host events such as historical lectures, parties, kid-friendly activities for families, and even wine tastings, as well as providing information to the public.

"The work that will be done here is at the core of our mission to restore the vibrancy and vitality of Lower Manhattan, and is critical to our future as a 24/ 7 community" said Menin. A downtown resident and business owner herself, Menin is also an active community leader and is even on the jury to choose the design for the World Trade Center memorial.

"She's been there since the very beginning," said Lower Manhattan Development President Kevin Rampe of Menin's community efforts. Rampe, who was one of the speakers at the center's opening, also said he believes the Downtown Information Center will become an indispensable tool to New Yorkers.

"The quality of life downtown has improved," he said, "but if the Lower Manhattan residents are not aware of the progress that's been made, then our goals have not been accomplished. Getting the message out is just as important as the goals themselves."

The 1,800 SF center, owned by Crescent Heights, cost $2 million, and features a centerpiece of a 12-foot model of every building and street in Lower Manhattan. The model's designers, the Rockwell Group and Fred Schwartz Architects worked on a pro bono basis. However, the main attraction of the center, Menin said is the state-of-the-art building's computer database, which will allow visitors to easily access detailed information on any downtown store, restaurant, bank, transportation system or residential building. The center will be open seven days a week, and run by Wall Street Rising staff members as well as community volunteers.

However, all of the information on downtown can also be accessed at the website www.downtown infocenter.org.

"If you're on Pearl St. and you need to know where the nearest ATM is or where a bank is open on the weekend, you can find it in a split second." said Menin.

The center, which the owners allow the WSR staff to use rent-free, was funded by grants and the donations of numerous associations who together contributed over $1 million. Merrill-Lynch, Lehman Brothers and American Express were among the project's sponsors.

Also supporting the center were State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, State Senators David A. Paterson and Martin Connor, City Council Speaker Gifford Miller, and City Council member Alan Gerson.

"I am delighted that the Downtown Information Center has opened its doors in my district," said Gerson. "This information center will help our local businesses survive and thrive."

"This center is an example of the unparalleled caliber of leadership and generosity that makes our city the most powerful metropolis in the entire world," said Speaker Silver. "On maps, where it says 'you are here' we should add 'here is where it's at."'

"We can all take solace in that collectively we have honored hour loved ones with a renewed spirit to make Lower Manhattan even better than before," said LMDC's Rampe, "and I think we've succeeded."
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Author:Mollotov, Sabina
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Geographic Code:1U2NY
Date:Sep 10, 2003
Words:636
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