Eyes on the Street: Get Ready for the New Gansevoort

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The view of Gansevoort Plaza looking west. The area to the right of the construction barrels will be set aside for pedestrian use.

Looks like the Meatpacking District is about to receive its livable streets makeover.

The Open Planning Project’s Lily Bernheimer snapped these shots of Gansevoort Plaza earlier today. The orange barrels and dashed lines appear to demarcate what will soon be new pedestrian areas and rows of planters. These improvements emerged from the efforts of the Greater Gansevoort Urban Improvement Project, an initiative begun in 2005. More tantalizing pics after the jump.

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It appears from the view looking north that this stretch of Ninth Avenue is about to go on a serious road diet.

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The view looking east.

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The view south towards Greenwich Street.

  • Dave

    I can’t seem to find recent plans of what they are trying to do at Gansevoort Plaza, but what I see is sadly disappointing.

    Of all the places in Manhattan Gansevoort Plaza calls out for a central round fountain with traffic slowed to a crawl going north on Greenwich St to 9th Ave and west on 13th to Gansevoort and Little W 12th. Extend the sidewalks to mirror the round shape and have outdoor seating aplenty and a focal point for the neighborhood.

    The lack or imagination in the plan I can discern from the cone layout is so boring, and just extends the recto-linear grid of Manhattan to this unique area. Yawn.

    Why is there no good design in NY? Is it to facilitate traffic flow and the hordes of tacky tacky Hummer limos in that neighborhood?

    Sad.

  • Five or Six in a Million

    Did anyone else notice 9th Avenue Bike lane medians have now been planted with trees?

    Spring is certainly here.

    Thank the good lord Albany didn’t need to approve http://www.milliontreesnyc.org !!!!

    (Just wish they’d been built out a la: http://www.streetsblog.org/2008/02/14/greenstreets-of-new-york-new-and-improved Ben, is there hope for Gansevoort to follow suit?)

  • ian

    oh, you’re absolutely right dave, gansevoort plaza, with its thousands and thousands of late night clubbers and daytime shoppers walking all around, needs a huge, immovable, absurd fountain plopped in the middle, on top of all the historic cobblestone the community has asked to keep exposed, pushing the traffic closer towards the narrow sidewalks, and eliminating the potential for thousands of square feet of additional sidewalk space that is badly needed.

    instead of whining about how there are no planners in nyc, how about familiarizing yourself with the history of the plaza, it’s current needs and traffic patterns (people and cars), and the community’s preferences. these things are, by the way, what planners have actually done here.

  • Eric

    I agree with #3 (Ian). Dave, welcome to Manhattan, we live in a rectilinear grid. Working within the grid gives the city it’s character. If you want fountains in circles clogging traffic and causing more pollution, move to Paris.

  • Gargamel Tralfaz

    It is gonna be a wonderful wide open space even if they just put lame concrete dividers up to keep the cars out (though so very glad they are doing much more to make it beautiful and keeping the cobblestones and all of course.)

    Dave, though dreams and ideas are great, sounds like the community wanted it this way and thus it should be.

  • Harry Hood

    Word up and congratulations to the community of local businesses and residents who made this plaza happen – and a BIG thanks for a city that cooperates with citizens who have good ideas.

    For those of you who are counting, the Meatpacking District is the proud home of two new plazas, both formally undefined spaces dominated by automobiles.

    ….and all since the spring of 2005.

    I’d love to hear from folks like Jo, Florent, David, Annie, and Ian who made these projects happen on the community side. I know some of you are reading….Commmmmmon, what is the secret to these quick and high impact improvement projects?

  • Douglas

    #6 (Harry) – The secret is dedicated community members who don’t let go of a great idea coupled with visionary leaders in the highest levels of City government who are willing to listen.

  • bureaucrat

    No need to bash Dave. Dave, I think the more important thing to remember here is the distinction between a short-term project and a long-term project. What they are doing here is not changing curblines or even requiring any construction as far as I know. Just using objects to delineate new pedestrian space on the historic roadbed.

    Leaving aside the aesthetic merits of your proposal, building a fountain and moving curblines is an expensive, time-consuming, long-term project. What DOT is doing here is thankfully quick for a city project, and should be looked at as a short-term fix. If you want to be involved in the long-term design then get involved with the community groups.

  • Dave

    Thanks for your support #8.

    My point is that the city thinks within the box (pun intended) and maintains streets and parking per the status quo.

    With Hudson and 14th Sts a block away from Gansevoort Plaza there is plenty of capacity for traffic in the area.

    Most of the traffic on Gansevoort and Little W 12th is only there looking for parking anyway, so why accommodate it? Widen the sidewalks and eliminate parking instead.

    The large paved sidewalk areas they are planning will be a blight when the puny trees die and the weeds grow. I am keeping a wary eye on the triangle north of 14th.

  • Ben Fried

    Dave, it’s my understanding that DOT is not going to extend the curb in these areas, just set the space off with planters or other barriers so vehicles will be channeled into a narrow lane.

  • LN

    These little green painted triangles are nothing permanent and zero effort from DOT. They can be removed in 5 minutes. What we need is true greenstreets with permanent plantings, in the ground of trees, permanent sidewalks and curbs. All of those in sum, a permanent commitment to giving streets back to the people –and open ground to absorb rainwater runoff. What we got here is an afternoon media event, a can of ugly paint, some cheap furniture and no one to care for big pots of dying trees.

  • Adrian

    Dave ,you know it takes a few miles to turn a supertanker around and hte speed with which this work is progressing is more akin to a jet ski. We should be applauding the speed at which this is getting done, I personally never thought it would be this quick. As an interim or short term solution to managing this area I think it is a good start.

  • Dave

    Once it gets built it is there to stay. With the looming financial crisis we are headed into it will stay that way for a long time.

    I just wish there was more vision in the city; wide sidewalks and small planting strips are nice enough but will not change the character of the area or the weekend gridlock.

  • Dave

    As I said I couldn’t see plans of exactly what is bing one; from what Ben said it sounds like it’s akin to what was done in Times Square which IMHO is ugly as anything.

    Times Square was probably intended to be temporary but will be there for a long time, as will Gansevoort.

    If they are not spending a lot, however, maybe there is hope that something other than a wide sidewalk and some forlorn trees can be considered in the final plan.

  • PB

    People – Writers and readers might want to look at the DOT website before guessing and speculating what a project is:

    http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/downloads/pdf/gansevoortcbpresentation.pdf

  • Tom

    Hi. I think it will look nice, but it is a missed opportunity for something esle.. New York’s take on London’s Portobello Road Market or a combination Greenmarket and flea market.

    Perhaps the Gansevoort Hotel would not like that area blocked off from traffic on Saturday or Sunday mornings, but it hardly gets the award for ‘Best Citizen’ in the neighborhood.

    One last thought: when traffic slows on 14th Street, the taxis and the partiers just out of the clubs tend to honk. And honk. And honk.

    Hopefully the slowing of traffic here will not make this situation any worse.

  • bureaucrat

    people, at least try not to be knuckleheads. LN and dave, your proposals would cost at least 10x what these projects currently are. in the current climate, you have to do what you can on a limited budget.. unless you know of an untapped funding stream for “real” improvements?

  • Angus Grieve-Smith
  • Robert

    As a resident of the area just below the Meat Packing(Greenwich St and Horatio), I am sadly disappointed that this new unattractive space further limits the flow of traffic late nights on the weekends that was already out of control so that Friday and Saturday from 1 to 3 AM all we hear is a symphony of horns and cars/taxis running stop signs. Great urban planning and really great for those who sleep at night!

  • Davis

    …Cue the NIMBY resident reaction.

    Robert, the traffic and the horn-honking problem pre-dates this redesign, does it not?

    If you want the traffic and the horn-honking to stop, then put together an initiative with your community to ban cars altogether. Have the meatpackers walk over to a taxi stand on West Street to catch their cabs.

  • Dave

    The idea to ban traffic altogether is great. Close the streets at 6pm after deliveries are done and have a pedestrian zone. Widen the sidewalks and enlarge outdoor seating.

    Of course the hotel and restaurants won’t like it because I bet they think their patrons need to arrive at the door.

    This could work with Hudson, 14th and Washington Sts in the area to handle traffic (of course ban all parking in the area at night to create taxi stands and reduce driving)

    The noise problem is one of enforcement…get a noise meter out there and ticket, ticket, ticket. For the motorcycles that roar at all hours, ticket and confiscate.

    For funding, go to the developers of the hotels in the area and/or create a BID.

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