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Delivery workers

SEE IT! Long-Awaited City Hall Delivery Worker Hub Unveiled

The facility would be a first of its kind in the country, officials say.

Rendering: Fantástica|

Delivery workers are slated to get a new rest hub outside City Hall.

City officials showed off designs for the planned delivery worker rest stop and hub that will replace a defunct newsstand in front of City Hall.

The Department of Parks and Recreation plans to tear down the vacant Koch-era kiosk on Broadway and install a slightly larger building offering nearly 50 e-bike battery chargers, a place to rest, and a small office space for some of the tens of thousands of app-based workers, advocates and officials told members of Manhattan’s Community Board 1 on Thursday night.

“[It works] sort of as a center of everything to make sure that the workers delivering for the city of New York stay safe and fed while they’re taking care of other New Yorkers,” said Ligia Guallpa, executive director of the Worker’s Justice Project said during the March 14 meeting of the board’s Landmarks and Preservation committee.

Parks hopes to build the new facility on the sidewalk outside City Hall between Murray Street and Park Place, according to a presentation [PDF], using $1 million in federal funding support from Sen. Chuck Schumer, along with another rest stop replacing a news stand outside the 72nd Street subway station on the Upper West Side.

In 2023, Worker's Justice Project Executive Director Ligia Guallpa (center with Sen. Chuck Schumer and Mayor Adams) announced plans to turn vacant newsstands, like the one behind them, into charging hubs for delivery workers. That plan is rolling out slowly.File photo: Julianne Cuba

Schumer and Mayor Adams announced the projects in fall of 2022, but their implementation has lagged amid pushback by locals against the uptown facility, which also requires reviews from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

The building will be three feet wider and five feet longer than the current newsstand, but the same height, according to Brooklyn-based designers Fantástica. 

The Department of Transportation will also install bike racks and remove two adjacent car parking spots currently reserved for City Hall to create an “access zone” for delivery workers — who will have to contend with the local placard scofflaws and license-plate-less drivers.

DOT will remove two City Hall parking spots to create an 'access zone.'Rendering: Fantástica

The proposal got mixed reviews at the CB1 committee, with some board members liking the project but not the building, while others called on the city and app companies to do more.

One resident said the billion-dollar businesses profiting off of the delivery labor should pitch in so that the city can build out infrastructure to meet the demand of the city’s estimated 60,000 delivery workers. 

“This is a really nice project, but how many bikes can we really service or charge at one time. Is this really something that’s really meeting your true needs,” said Andrea Jue. “Delivery apps are making billions and billions of dollars and profiting off [the workers]. ... I find it really galling.”

Another board member asked whether the DOT planned to install any safer bike access points in the street, since many cyclists currently cut through City Hall Park — which is legal for regular bikes but illegal for e-bikes. 

The agency doesn’t plan to build a bike lane on Broadway, according to a rep, who suggested cyclists use the bus lane on the opposite side of the street and then cross over.

“There is no current plan for bike lanes on Broadway,” said DOT Manhattan Borough Commissioner Ed Pincar. “We’re very confident just with the way the intersection is designed, Broadway and Murray, that cyclists would come down southbound and then be able to come over, enter the access zone, use the Deliverista hub.”

The rest facility won’t include restrooms, which are already hard to find, another local lamented.

“The lack of lavatories is another factor that you encounter in this job constantly,” said Jared Sheer. “I don’t want perfection to be the enemy of the good, but I just wonder why, we have this funding, we have this opportunity, that’s something that couldn’t be incorporated for the public.”

The building has a connection to the electrical grid, but not the sewers, and adding that utility would jack up the cost, according to a Parks rep. 

“To do that is hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars, extraordinarily expensive,” said David Cerron, an assistant commissioner at the agency.

Some board members disliked the modern look of the building and said it was infringing on the sidewalk.

“This location with this enlarged program is going to diminish the sidewalk, and it is the most inappropriate place to put something like this with this modernist structure in front of our City Hall,” said Vicky Cameron. “It is not conducive or appropriate design to be in front of our City Hall, I’m sorry. Even if you put a temple, I’m not going to support this, but it is an inappropriate structure, for an inappropriate place, I’m a definite no.”

The existing kiosk is not landmarked and is itself a prefab from the 1980s, even though it was made to look older, and one member suggested they shouldn’t be too precious about the current building.

“I’m willing to fight for authentic historic preservation, but a 1980s replica building is Disney,” said Gerald Forsburg. 

Parks still needs approval from the Landmarks Preservation Commission because of its location in a historic district, and the agency will seek that permit after an advisory vote by the community board at its full board meeting on March 26.

The city recently also debuted outdoor e-bike charging stations in the East Village, as part of its efforts to provide safer charging infrastructure amid the growing number of fires sparked by lithium-ion batteries.  

The refueling station downtown will be a prefabricated structure with three modular sections: a small office, a six cabinets to charge around 50 bike batteries powered by the bike storage company Oonee, and a repair and tuneup section.

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