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Landmarks Officials OK Delivery Worker Hub Outside City Hall

The sleek new delivery hub and charging station will replace a 1980s-era newsstand that's sat empty since the pandemic.

Rendering: Fantástica|

The proposed delivery worker hub at City Hall.

The city's landmarks commission gave the go-ahead on Tuesday for a federally funded delivery worker charging station and rest stop in place of the empty newsstand outside City Hall — rejecting the local community board's claim the design was to modern for the district and paving the way for the first-in-the-nation facility to go up later this year.

The kiosk — backed by federal dollars secured by Sen. Chuck Schumer — needed the Landmarks Preservation Commission's approval because it's in a historic district.

But LPC members were largely OK with the structure's more modern design, agreeing with the city that it was needed to support the city's tens of thousands of app-based couriers who rely on e-bikes for their work.

"They’re a critical part of our economy right now," Commissioner Jeanne Lutfy said during the hearing. "People need to make a living, they need to make a safe living, and they need to be able to recharge batteries, they need to be able to rest, they need to be able to, you know, literally refuel."

The panel voted 8-1 in favor. The proposal faced opposition from Manhattan Community Board 1, which voted against the project last month — albeit in purely advisory capacity — citing the modern design. Board members said the design encroached too much on a busy sidewalk, and lacked restrooms.

At Tuesday's LPC vote, which was binding, members said the proposed glass and metal box will fit in with the Lower Manhattan streetscape just fine and should be copied around the city.

"Our city streets are filled with contemporary — appropriately contemporary — elements, and I think the function of what’s happening here needs to be accommodated in the form of the building," said LPC's Vice Chair Frederick Bland. "As a citizen of New York, I hope that you’re successful here and that this can be … repeated in use around the city."

The LPC's sole criticism was that designers could scale back the size of the building a bit and make some of the side panels more transparent.

"The front perforated panel could be cut down to be a little less bulky and make the building just seem a little less big, for want of a better word, but in general I think this is a reasonable proposal and a good location," said Commissioner Mark Ginsberg.

The new structure will be slightly larger than the existing newsstand and take up about half of the 30-foot-wide sidewalk, architects with the firm Fantástica said at the meeting.

CB 1's disapproval of the project came after Community Board 7 on the Upper West Side last year rejected a plan to repurpose an old newsstand outside the 72nd Street subway station.

The Parks Department first revealed detailed plans about a month ago to replace the vacant structure outside City Hall with a slightly larger building hosting 48 e-bike chargers, a place to rest, a small office space, and room for repairs and tuneups.

Parks will contract the Workers Justice Project, which organized delivery workers under the moniker Los Deliveristas Unidos, to staff the station during peak delivery hours in the afternoon and evening. Battery chargers will be available around the clock via an app to delivery workers and the general public.

The current facility outside City Hall looks old, but is actually a prefab structure dating to the 1980s.

It’s been nearly two years since Mayor Adams and Schumer announced the project, boasting $1 million from Washington for the City Hall and Upper West Side hubs. Implementation has lagged amid the local pushback and multiple levels of review.

Parks officials said they will focus on building the downtown outpost first, with its opening slated for late fall. 

"We're proud to be part of a creative, first-of-its-kind effort to support app-based delivery workers with a safe and supportive workplace, using our public spaces in a new and innovative way," Parks Department spokeswoman Kelsey Jean-Baptiste said in a statement. "We are pleased to hear that the Landmarks Preservation Commission voted to recommend approval for the City Hall Deliverista Hub."

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