The entrance to the Holland Tunnel, a maze of traffic and complicated pedestrian crossings, finally has some much-needed open space. Thursday, the Hudson Square Connection, the Business Improvement District (BID) for the area, along with the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, announced the opening of Freeman Plaza West, a new public space outfitted with bistro-style tables and chairs, umbrellas, and greenery, including four trees planted in honor of four members of Port Authority Police Department’s Holland Tunnel Command who lost their lives in the line of duty on September 11th 2001.
After securing a 5-year lease (with renewal options) for the plaza from the Port Authority, the Connection spent $200,000 on transforming the closed space into a gathering area for the residents and for the more than 50,000 people working in Hudson Square.
“The Hudson Square neighborhood is a creative hub in the city and is really starved for open space,” said Ellen Baer, president of the Hudson Square Connection.
Freeman Plaza West is one of several public spaces that will be unveiled within the next few years. Last fall, the Connection launched its five-year plan to update and enliven the public realm with substantial improvements to Soho Square and Spring, Varick, and Hudson Streets. This $27 million plan will include a variety of enhancements from planting beds and pocket gardens to curbside seating and widened sidewalks. The Connection has also tapped Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects to help with the landscape design program.
“If this works, we may do a few other temporary spaces,” said Baer. “We have no shortage of ideas.”