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Common Sense Wins: CB 12 Approves Plaza for Haven Avenue in Washington Heights

Rendering: NYC DOT

Last night Manhattan Community Board 12 signed off on a plan to build a public plaza on a segment of Haven Avenue outside NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital in Washington Heights.

The vote was 27 to 16, according to a source who attended the meeting.

Right now, the short stretch of Haven between W. 169th Street and Fort Washington Avenue is a haven (zing!) for placard abusers, illegally parked FedEx and UPS drivers, and motorists who store vehicles on the street.

Given the proximity to the hospital and other health care facilities, two years ago Columbia University, which is affiliated with NewYork-Presbyterian, applied to the DOT Plaza Program to open the block for public use [PDF].

A plaza here is a natural fit, since it would serve an employment hub that sits on top of three subway lines in a neighborhood where 70 percent of households are car-free. With just two DOT plazas in Manhattan north of Harlem, Washington Heights needs all the pedestrian space it can get.

What the plaza will replace. Image: Google Maps (h/t Bernard Finucane)
What the plaza will replace. Image: Google Maps (h/t Bernard Finucane)
What the plaza will replace. Image: Google Maps (h/t Bernard Finucane)

A series of temporary plazas and workshops drew thousands of people each, and the project was supported by more than a dozen local entities.

Last year, however, a CB 12 member mounted a campaign to quash the proposal in order to preserve 17 free curbside parking spots.

NIMBYs who live nearby succeeded in getting CB 12 to delay a vote on the Haven plan last fall before common sense ultimately prevailed.

The construction timetable for the plaza is still to be determined, a Columbia official told Streetsblog. We'll keep an eye out for developments.

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