Hudson Square Plaza Revamp Leaves Shared Space Street for Another Day

The plaza on the left is getting refurbished, but a shared space plan for this street was tabled in part because it's used as a display space for a motorcycle dealership. Photo: Google Maps
The plaza on the left is getting refurbished, but a shared space plan for the street was tabled because, among other reasons, it’s used as a display space for a motorcycle dealership. Photo: Google Maps

A plan to convert a two-block street on the border of Soho and Hudson Square into shared space is going to sit on the shelf — for now.

The Parks Department and the Hudson Square Connection Business Improvement District are splitting the cost of a $6 million plan to overhaul a triangular park along Sixth Avenue between Spring and Broome Streets. Conceptual plans for the space from 2012 showed Little Sixth Avenue, a two-block street on the west side of the park, being converted to a pedestrian-priority street that would slow drivers by blurring the line between street and sidewalk. But that was dropped from the project over concerns about utility work, costs, and loss of on-street parking.

“We’re not precluding it, but we don’t have the budget to include it,” said Signe Nielsen of landscape architecture firm Mathews Nielsen, which is designing the revamped plaza and worked on the previous conceptual plan. “We’re totally in favor of it. It was an initiative that we actually recommended in our master plan study, but we’re aware that DOT requires a lot of backup before they will allow such a thing to go through.”

Mathews Nielsen studied three options for Little Sixth Avenue: Eliminating curbs and rebuilding the roadbed to the same height as adjacent sidewalks; adding raised crosswalks; and painting or replacing the existing asphalt surface. The last option was deemed too minor of a change. But because of drainage and utility work, the construction costs of raised crosswalks or shared space were too high given the resources available.

A plaza rehab on the border of Soho and Hudson Square will not include upgrades to Little Sixth Avenue -- for now. Image: Mathews Nielsen landscape architects
A plaza rehab on the border of Soho and Hudson Square will not include upgrades to Little Sixth Avenue — for now. Image: Mathews Nielsen landscape architects

Nielsen spoke with DOT about a similar shared space project in Downtown Brooklyn. “It tends be very site-specific because of adjacent land uses,” she said of shared space. “Some things are applicable from one site to another, but some are not.”

Nielsen says parking on Little Sixth Avenue came up as an issue at a community board meeting on the plan this week. A motorcycle dealership regularly sets up its vehicles in the street for display, and teachers from Chelsea Career and Technical Education High School use the remainder of the street’s curbside parking for their daily commutes.

“We are happy to consider options for Little Sixth Avenue as an extension of the plaza or as a shared street in the future, in conjunction with the Hudson Square BID and the local community,” said a DOT spokesperson.

While shared space is on hold, the plan to rebuild the existing plaza space is not. The project includes a water fountain, new trees, and an increase in permeable surfaces from 7.5 percent of the site to 35 percent. It also features new lighting, benches, chairs, and tables. The project relocates a Citi Bike station that currently sits in the plaza to a space nearby, though DOT has not yet settled on a new location.

The plan, backed by the Community Board 2 parks committee, is set for a vote before the full board on February 19, according to DNAinfo, before going to the Public Design Commission on March 2. Construction could begin in spring 2016 and wrap before the end of 2017.

  • r

    How much does the motorcycle shop pay the city for setting up its wares on a public street?

  • Andres Dee

    Remember all those homes and businesses upset about the garish and out-of-context bike-share racks? Just askin’.

  • Emmily_Litella

    Teacher parking? There’s subways to everywhere over there. Are they going to quit over having to bear the same expense as everyone else to commute?

  • Alex

    It’s absurd. There are also a fair number of schools in the city that have parking lots for teachers, even at schools with good subway access. Very few private businesses near subway stops provide employee parking, yet the Dept of Ed feels compelled to use large and valuable pieces of land as surface parking? How about using some of that as park/playground space and sell the rest to developers so the money can be used to benefit students?

  • AnoNYC

    If these teacher actually lived in the communities they taught, perhaps the schools would improve? Some areas could use an influx of people with advanced educations, which wouldn’t tolerate nonsense they know is unacceptable elsewhere.

  • Lora Tenenbaum

    Sorry to hear that part of the plan is being scrapped. I saw the original presentation at CB#2 and thought it an excellent plan. I do not understand how the motorcycles are allowed to be placed where no parking is allowed (look at the no parking sign) and too close to the fire hydrant…and not even pay the city for it. That is a taking of public land. At least put up meters and make these people pay for the privilege…

    That being said, the fact that the DOT is willing to move the bike station out of the plaza gives me some hope that eventually they will do that for Petrosino Square. But then again, BIDs seem to have much more power than Community Boards or elected officials…

  • mattkime

    Apparently you’ve never call 311 about this sort of thing. It seems it’s a general rule to close such complaints without so much as a glance.

  • andrelot

    Non-sense. Schools need good teachers, teachers mover around from school to school sometimes, and they can’t relocate their whole families every time they change schools.

    Moreover, in certain areas housing is insanely expensive, completely unaffordable on even two teachers’ salaries.

  • Lora Tenenbaum

    The article spoke of how the DOT chose to deliberately stop the street closure so that this motorcycle company can continue to display its wares on the public street…in violation of parking laws. The DOT is allowing this…even encouraging it. These guys are allowed, like any other business, to display their wares 3 feet into the sidewalk from their building, so long as there is still 9 feet pedestrian access. They cannot display their wares in the street.

    At the very least put in some muni-meters!

    By the way, I have called 311 about illegal parking. Calling my precinct directly tends to get better results. Thats because they have 8 hours to respond to a non-emergency 311 complaint.

  • Andrew

    How is that any different from any other profession?

    I don’t care where a teacher chooses to live, but if it requires that he drive to work, then it’s his own personal responsibility to find legal parking, at his own expense.

    Setting aside free parking for teachers who choose to drive to work simply encourages teachers to drive to work. It provides them with a targeted subsidy that they can’t use if they walk or cycle or ride the subway to work – only if they drive. And it leaves them with a windshield perspective that they subconsciously pass on to their students.

  • r

    Nurses. Sanitation workers. Home care aids. People who work in social services, legal aid, and other professions that help the poor. Dental assistants.

    Imagine how long the list of “People who can argue that they deserve free parking” could be! It might never end!

  • andrelot

    My argument is less about teachers not using public transportation, if available, and more about the foolishness of arguing teachers should live in the same neighborhoods their schools are located.

  • Andrew

    No argument there. They can live on Mars, for all I care.

  • Slātlantican

    And some of us (almost) do. I teach middle school, and my commute using public transportation is about 30 miles, despite the fact that I own two cars and have access to free parking at my school.

  • $34284223

    What reason would there be to not allow this street to be BOTH closed for pedestrian only use AND still used to display the bikes?

  • Tyler

    The same amount as the Hollywood Car Wash pays to use the sidewalk, parking lane and one of the travel lanes of Coney Island Avenue in Brooklyn to conduct their business…. nothing. Oh, and they are basically across the street from a police ‘station’ and adjacent to a pizza place where I regularly see police cars stopped to get a snack.

    At least these motorcycles aren’t creating a dangerous, unexpected bottleneck on a major roadway. That would be crazy!

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