“Boulevard 41” Poised to Reclaim Space for People Near Bryant Park

While Vision42 might not happen soon, Boulevard 41 is more likely. The plan from the Bryant Park Corporation has approvals in hand but needs funding from adjacent property owners. Image: Bryant Park Corporation [PDF]
A plan from the Bryant Park Corporation to replace car parking with seating has approvals in hand but needs funding from adjacent property owners. Image: Bryant Park Corporation [PDF]

A crowded Midtown block could get more space for people and plantings if adjacent property owners decide to foot the bill.

The local business improvement district, the Bryant Park Corporation, wants to convert the curbside lanes of 41st Street between Sixth Avenue and Broadway into a pedestrian seating zone as part of proposal it’s calling “Boulevard 41” [PDF]. The plan, which received approvals from DOT, FDNY, and Community Board 5 [PDF] last year, is on hold, however, until the Bryant Park Corporation secures funding from adjacent property owners.

“The intention was to cover the entire cost of the project with private money coming from the buildings on the block,” said Ignacio Ciocchini, vice president of design for the Bryant Park Corporation. The block is split between about seven property owners whose territory falls under three BIDs covering Bryant Park, Times Square, and the Garment District, so Ciocchini had additional hoops to jump through before getting a green light for the project.

The plan would replace about half of the curbside along one block 41st Street with seating and greenery. Image:
The plan would replace about half of the curbside along 41st Street between Sixth Avenue and Broadway with seating and plantings. Image: Bryant Park Corporation [PDF]

“The whole project was initiated by property owners to improve the street,” he said. “They came to us.”

“As many of the buildings are now changing hands this proved difficult to accomplish, but we are not giving up yet,” Ciocchini said. He is meeting with some of the new property owners next week and hopes to get their support without having to make many changes to the approved plan.

The street seating would be installed seasonally from April to October. It is expected to cost $1.5 million the first year and $500,000 each following year to cover fabrication, installation, planting, maintenance, sanitation, and security.

While some elements of the installation might be ready to go later this year with the backing of the new property owners, Ciocchini said the complete project would more likely have to wait until 2016. “It really depends on the reaction that these new companies have,” he said.

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