Posts tagged with "Hudson Square":

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Freeman Plaza West creates islands of green amid torrents of New York traffic

Hugging the looped entrance to the Holland Tunnel on Broome Street, Freeman Plaza West is a “found” public space in Manhattan that’s been reimagined as a peaceful parkland for area workers to remove themselves from the car-ridden bustle of the surrounding streetscape. The two-acre green space is the talk of the surrounding Hudson Square, and not just because its the newest non-desk place to eat lunch in the post-industrial Manhattan neighborhood. The project was conceived by the Hudson Square Business Improvement District (BID) and designed by Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects (MNLA). Freeman Plaza is spread out over three adjacent landscapes—a west, east, and north plaza (the former two are finished). The spaces feature simple interventions such as tables, chairs, decking, solar-powered charging stations, turf lawn, book lending kiosks, public art, and programming, all input gradually over a period of several years. Because of the plaza’s close connection to the Holland Tunnel, where 12 lanes of traffic merge into two, the architects aimed to make a quiet place where congestion and noise were nearly imperceptible. Signe Nielsen, MNLA’s founding principal, said the firm was led by the question: “How can we make a true public space in the middle of 45,000 cars?” “It has truly been an adventure in tactical urbanism,” Nielsen said. “Although this is a somewhat overwrought term, we’ve been implementing opportune interventions on a fairly unlikely site slowly and steadily, and at low-cost.”
 
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Over 40,000 people work in Hudson Square. The majority of them, due to the types of companies the area attracts, are young, mobile workers under 35 who are tech-savvy, transient, and seek time away from the office during the day. Freeman Plaza, Nielsen said, isn’t in a typical location for a park, but it offers the same respite a park might, while being somewhat of a shock to the local population—simply because it’s an actual green space with already mature trees in a non-green area. “Most people don’t think of Freeman Plaza as a destination; it’s a surprise,” Nielsen said. “We virtually created a complete buffer from the outside world so psychologically it feels like you’re not in the middle of traffic.” Freeman Plaza is the third “found” space in Hudson Square, identified as part of an initiative to amplify public space and rebrand the district. Hudson Square BID and MNLA released an award-winning masterplan in 2012 called “Hudson Square is Now” that gave way to a more sustainable streetscape with 250 newly-planted or retrofitted trees and a stormwater management system. Nielsen sees this type of casual, gradual landscape design as a way to help beautify and reclaim urban spaces in any city, especially areas that are walkable but also dependent on cars. She notes that observing the city with an eagle eye is key when siting underutilized areas located directly off of major pieces of transportation infrastructure. “You’ve got to look around in a very greedy kind of way,” she said. “Ask, where can I grab land for people? What would it take to allow the public into this space? Sometimes the most unlikely places appear.” Freeman Plaza West opened to the public earlier this spring, following the initial build-out of Freeman Plaza East in 2014. MNLA’s design for the new Spring Street Park, located one block from Freeman Plaza, unofficially opened to the public last month.
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Disney plans to build new Hudson Square campus in a $650 million deal

The Walt Disney Company is moving its long-time New York headquarters to Hudson Square, a move that solidifies the up-and-coming area’s position as a hub for creative companies. Disney acquired the rights to develop 4 Hudson Square, a Trinity Church Real Estate-owned site, with a 99-year lease, as reported by The Real Deal. The site offers 1.2 million buildable square feet, however, the site is only zoned for 800,000 square feet. The site consists of a full city block, bordered by Hudson, Varick, Vandam, and Spring streets. The new building is aiming for LEED certification and “will also incorporate the latest technology as well as the ability to adapt to the next generation of technological advances,” according to Disney chair Robert Iger in a statement released on Monday. “The Hudson Square district is rapidly becoming a dynamic, innovative hub for media, technology and other creative businesses.” The Hudson Square headquarters will consolidate most of Disney New York’s operations, including offices and production spaces for WABC-TV, ABC NEWS, “Live with Kelly and Ryan,” “The View,” and other Disney Streaming Services. Morning talk show “Good Morning America” will continue to operate out of ABC’s Times Square studio. Separately, Disney is closing in on a deal to sell its existing properties to developer Larry Silverstein for $1.55 billion. Trinity Church's real estate portfolio dates back to a land grant of 215 acres given by Queen Anne to the church in 1705. Although much of the land from the royal grant has been sold, Trinity Church continues to be one of New York City’s largest landowners, still owning 14 of its original 215 acres across Manhattan, most of which are in the Hudson Square area. Hudson Square, once known as the printing district in the 1900s, is quickly rebranding as a hub for creative industries and businesses. The area has attracted companies in the media, tech, internet, and creative industries, which was fueled by Trinity’s investment into the area and the 2013 rezoning that allows for new residential development and modern office space.
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St. John’s Terminal project scraps big-box retail and train platform park

Westbrook Partners and Atlas Capital have scrapped their plans for big-box retail at St. John’s Terminal in Hudson Square, along with their plans to turn a defunct elevated train platform into a public park. The changes come in response to concerns over the development’s impact on the neighborhood expressed by community members and the City Planning Commission. Instead, the developers have settled on a minimum of four retail spaces on the ground floor at West Houston and three retail spaces on the ground floor at Clarkson Street. They plan to remove the railway tracks entirely, opting for an open space on the ground level with plants and seating between the proposed five buildings, according to DNAinfo. No changes were made regarding the amount of proposed parking. Originally, the Hudson River Park Trust struck a deal with the developers to transfer 200,000 square feet of Pier 40’s air rights to the developers across the street for $100 million, as reported by The Architect’s Newspaper, with plans to use the money to repair the deteriorating 15-acre pier, which is sinking into the Hudson River. The air rights were only valued at $75 million, according to Crain’s New York Business, and the deal was contingent upon a successful Urban Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP). Now that the deal is moving along, Westbrook Partners is on the hunt for a developer partner to kick in a $100 million to convert the terminal to a 1.7 million-square-foot office and residential complex, as reported by The Real Deal. In addition, the developers promised a 10,000 square-foot indoor recreation space in their revisions of the project, which would be available to the public half of the time it is open. According to the developer's letter to the City Planning Commission, the space would be outfitted for “various ball sports, martial arts, or fitness classes,” and include bathrooms and storage, but the developers would be able to charge a fee for access “to cover overhead and maintenance.” Community board chair Tobi Bergman told DNAinfo that this last amendment a “disappointing one.” “You’re still always going to feel like you’re in a condo amenity space where you don’t belong,” Bergman said. Westbrook has owned St. John’s Terminal for several years, leasing it out as office space, and owns several commercial properties in the city. The firm became the majority stakeholder in the St. John’s Terminal development when it bought out one of its partners, Fortress Investors, for $200 million last year, as reported by Crain’s New York Business.
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New Plaza Brings Needed Public Space to Holland Tunnel Entrance

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."
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New York City Council Approves Hudson Square Rezoning

Aerial view of Hudson Square. (Courtesy Hudson Square BID) Development is soon on the horizon for Hudson Square, the 18-block area sandwiched between Soho and Tribeca. Yesterday New York City Council approved the Hudson Square rezoning, which entails raising the allowable building height to pave the way for more residential and mixed-use development. The city was able to finagle more affordable housing and open space throughout the approval process. From the get-go, preservationists have feared that development will seep into the South Village and have pressed the city to landmark the entire district. City Council has worked out a deal with Landmarks Preservation Commission to vote on the northern section of South Village by the end of the year.
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Hudson Square to Soar to New Heights With New Zoning

The New York Department of City Planning just approved a rezoning plan of Hudson Square that could likely change the scale of the neighborhood. Developers and landlords can now raise the building height to 290 feet along wide streets, which will make Hudson Square, an 18-block area located west of Soho and south of South Village, more suitable for residential and mixed-use development. Curbed reported that preservationists advocated for landmark designation for South Village to prevent any large-scale development from spilling over into the neighborhood, but a historic district was absent from the zoning amendments. Developer Trinity Real Estate, which owns 40 percent of Hudson Square’s property, initially proposed the rezoning and has committed to making neighborhood improvements.
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Hudson Square Pushes to Reclaim Pedestrian Space

A major transformation of the once-industrial Hudson Square neighborhood in Lower Manhattan aims to bring pedestrian vitality to streets originally designed for delivery trucks servicing printing houses.  Crain's reports that Hudson Square Connections, the local business improvement district, has selected a design group led by Mathews Nielsen Landscape Architects from a pool of 23 respondents to create a new streetscape to improve the area's image. Hudson Square, bounded by Greenwich Street, Houston Street, 6th Avenue, and Canal Street, is becoming increasingly residential as large art-deco buildings are converted into hip offices and dwellings. Details are currently being worked out, but a plan is expected to be in place by the end of 2011.  Mathews Nielsen brings experience from nearby Hudson River Park and the pedestrianization of Times Square.  The team, including Rogers Marvel Architects, Billings Jackson Design, ARUP, and Open graphic design, plans to work with the NYC Department of Transportation on the design. With such a background, it's clear that space will be reclaimed for pedestrians.  Ellen Baer, president of Hudson River Connection, told Crain's, "There are very few places where people can sit and enjoy lunch here. We want to create those oases and green spaces." [ Via Crain's. ]