Gotham rises, shines 10 years after 9/11

Neighborhoods around Ground Zero have enjoyed a rebirth

What a difference a decade makes. The neighborhoods around Ground Zero have enjoyed a rebirth in the years since the Sept. 11 attacks devastated lower Manhattan.

The first few years after the tragedy were characterized by infighting between investors, insurers, and property owners and plummeting real estate values. Most of the films that were made in the neighborhood around the former site of the World Trade Center were documentaries.

But as the 10th anniversary of 9/11 approaches, the long-delayed Freedom Tower is under construction. The number of people living in the district has nearly doubled. Nineteen hotels have been built. A spokeswoman for the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting says demand for lensing permits in Tribeca and the Financial District is at an all-time high.

Not surprisingly, Gotham’s theater community continues to thrive in Soho and points south, aided by grants from the Lower Manhattan Development Corp.

The Wooster Group, a small but influential Off Broadway theater troupe, will get $250,000 to make its Soho space the Performing Garage a year-round presenting and rehearsal venue. Tribeca mainstay the Flea Theater landed $500,000 to construct a three-theater venue at 20 Thomas Street.

Mayor Bloomberg touted the area’s recovery in a speech Tuesday, and on Wednesday the LMDC announced it would award a total of $17 million in grants to community and cultural non-profit orgs in the area.

“Today, our film and TV industry is stronger than ever,” Bloomberg said. “And there is more space devoted to arts and culture in Lower Manhattan than there was on September 10th, 2001 — places like Poets House in Battery Park City.”

Bloomberg singled out the Tribeca Film Festival and co-founders Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal, and Craig Hatkof. The fest has helped generate significant business in the area since it began in 2002 in an effort to help revitalize the Tribeca area.

“It’s pumped hundreds of millions of dollars into our economy, and it’s put Lower Manhattan on the map as a community for filmmakers and artists of every kind,” Bloomberg said.