By Julie Shapiro
LOWER MANHATTAN — Residents of a downtown luxury apartment building slated to become a staging area for visitors to the 9/11 memorial are upset about being inundated with tourists.
Starting this September, hundreds of tourists each hour will pass through 90 West St. for security screening and orientation before they enter the 9/11 memorial. The memorial foundation has rented all of the retail space on the ground floor of the doorman building and plans to use it for the next three years.
"That's not good," said Jamie Tomczyk, 29, a resident of 90 West St., when told of the plan recently. "This is your home. I don't want it to be a tourist attraction."
Dan Chamberlain, 29, said he and other 90 West residents have already put up with noisy round-the-clock construction at the World Trade Center site and the Deutsche Bank building demolition.
"It's really asking a lot of the residents," Chamberlain said. "I wish it was in another space."
Peter Levenson, principal at The Kibel Companies, the building's owner, said the tourist screening spaces will be entirely secure and separate from 90 West's lobby and residential areas.
"The memorial will be visited by many people and that will be felt by everyone downtown," Levenson said in an e-mail. "By agreeing to house the welcome center we had some input on circulation to make sure the impact to our residents was as small as possible."
Levenson said the building's history makes it particularly appropriate for it to house memorial visitors. The landmarked Cass Gilbert tower was heavily damaged on 9/11 and was meticulously restored and converted from offices to apartments.
Joe Daniels, president of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, wrote a letter to 90 West residents this week that outlines the plans for the "welcome center" in their building, which will include a souvenir shop tourists can visit as they leave the memorial.
"As residents of lower Manhattan, you are all such a critical part of the history of 9/11 and its aftermath," Daniels wrote. "We appreciate your patience and support as we open this national tribute."
Visitors to the 9/11 memorial will have to reserve free, timed tickets in advance. They will meet on a new plaza at the former Deutsche Bank site and then will walk over to the north side of 90 West St. for security screening, according to memorial officials. After leaving 90 West St., they will walk along a secure route on West Street to the memorial.
On their way back, visitors will head south on West Street until they get back to 90 West St., where they can either visit the gift shop or return to the public sidewalk. Visitors leaving the memorial will cross in front of the main entrance that 90 West resdients use.
The ground floor of 90 West St. will also house a separate welcome and screening area for family members of 9/11 victims, along with a small office for memorial workers, said Jim Connors, executive vice president of operations for the memorial.
The memorial will likely be open from 10 a.m. until an hour after dusk on weekdays and may open earlier on weekends, Connors said.