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Gansevoort Plaza Designs Revealed

Last night, Community Board 2’s Traffic & Transportation Committee reviewed proposed revised design elements and street furniture for Gansevoort Plaza in the Meatpacking District. The Meatpacking Improvement Association (which will be responsible for maintaining the public plazas) has been working with the Department of Transportation (DOT) on the proposal, which can be seen below:

Proposed temporary designs for public plazas in Gansevoort Market (click to enlarge)
Proposed locations of temporary public plazas (click to enlarge)

Here’s the backstory:  The current furniture was installed in 2008 by DOT and was supposed to have been a temporary design.  Both the aesthetics and functioning of the ‘temporary’ design have been criticized, and there have long been calls for improvements, including from GVSHP.  DOT has been working on new designs, but the Department of Environmental Protection recently determined that the water and sewer pipes under these streets are in dire need of replacement, so in the not-too-distant future the cobblestone streets will be dug up and then put back exactly as they were.  DOT is currently engaged in choosing a design team for the permanent public plazas that will be installed once this work on the water & sewer lines is complete. Because the area is within the boundaries of the Gansevoort Market Historic District, (which GVSHP successfully advocated for designation in 2003) these permanent designs will be subject to the public review process at the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC).

In the meantime, DOT is now looking at a temporary replacement for the current ‘temporary’ designs (how’s that for confusing?), which brings us to last night’s proposal. This proposal would last only until work began on the water & sewer lines. Because it would be temporary, the proposal is not required to go through the public process at the LPC; rather, the LPC will review it at staff level (internally). Unfortunately, this leaves scant opportunity for public comment, so what you see above is pretty much what you get – a mix of white bollards, traffic stripes, planters and movable tables & chairs. According to the DOT, the number of bollards and white stripes fits their minimum requirements for traffic control and safety.

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