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Posts from the "GGUIP" Category

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The New Gansevoort: Pedestrian Godsend, Nightclubber Nuisance

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A DOT team received a mix of gratitude and derision at Tuesday's public forum about recent pedestrian improvements in the Meatpacking District, which attracted an audience of about 100 people to the Housing Works offices on West 13th Street. It was an interesting window onto the competing interests now vying to shape what has been, from the beginning, a genuinely community-based project seeking to put pedestrians on equal footing with vehicle traffic.

Those who came to praise described the new sense of safety they feel walking around the area near Gansevoort Plaza. Those who came to scorn suggested rolling back those improvements in the hopes that livery passengers might not have to wait another minute or two to be dropped off right at their luxe destinations. The former enjoyed a two-to-one advantage over the latter among those who spoke, with much of crowd opinion resting with a sizable, aesthetically-driven middle ground -- people who professed support for street reclamation in theory, but just don't like the look of nipple bollards.

The goal of the meeting, said DOT Manhattan Borough Commissioner Margaret Forgione, was to get "a sense of the overall feeling and a sense of what can be tweaked" about the project, which is slated to enter a permanent design phase this July, followed by construction the next year. There was no shortage of thoughtful ideas -- and clunkers -- for a neighborhood attempting to deal with the influx of cab and limo traffic on weekend nights. Taxi stands, anyone?

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Eyes on the Street: Get Ready for the New Gansevoort

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The view of Gansevoort Plaza looking west. The area to the right of the construction barrels will be set aside for pedestrian use.

Looks like the Meatpacking District is about to receive its livable streets makeover.

The Open Planning Project's Lily Bernheimer snapped these shots of Gansevoort Plaza earlier today. The orange barrels and dashed lines appear to demarcate what will soon be new pedestrian areas and rows of planters. These improvements emerged from the efforts of the Greater Gansevoort Urban Improvement Project, an initiative begun in 2005. More tantalizing pics after the jump.

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Meatpacking District Will Get a Makeover

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A rendering of the proposed Gansevoort Plaza, looking southbound.


Major public space improvements are on the drawing board for Lower Manhattan's old Meat-Packing District. Ian Dutton, Houston Street bike safety organizer, professional airline pilot and Streetsblog reader has the report: 

Last year, community groups came together as the Greater Gansevoort Urban Improvement Project to develop a vision to rein in chaotic traffic and create a great new public space for Lower Manhattan's old Meatpacking District. Only a few months later -- a virtual blink of the eye by city bureaucracy standards -- New York City's Dept. of Transportation has already stepped forward with a detailed plan that would create a new public plaza, a buffered bike lane, simplified pedestrian crossings, and a new road configuration designed to reduce the area's traffic chaos (download the plan here).

As Mayor Bloomberg's congestion pricing plan stalls in Albany gridlock, DOT's Office of Alternative Modes is showing one way for City Hall to take control of New York City's streets regardless of what Sheldon Silver or any other New York State Assembly member has to say about it.

DOT presented its renovation plan for the intersection of Ninth Ave. and 14th St. to Manhattan Community Board 4 on Wednesday evening. Ryan Russo, DOT's Director for Street Management and Safety, explained that the agency is taking advantage of a scheduled repaving of Ninth Ave. in mid-July to respond to long-standing community request to remove the two-block northbound contra-flow traffic lane from the avenue, which has been blamed for several pedestrian fatalities, most recently in February.

DOT's plan also includes the conversion of one southbound lane on Ninth Ave. to a buffered-bike lane. The expectation is that by year's end, this bike lane will extend down Hudson St. and Bleecker St., eventually linking up with the recently-approved Bleecker St. bike lane, providing a continuous bike route across Lower Manhattan, all the way to the East Village.

Russo explained that there are many collateral benefits of removing the northbound lane and reconfiguring southbound traffic. Most notably, DOT is creating a 4,500 sq. ft. plaza just above 14th Street. To the east of this plaza will be two traffic lanes and the new bike lane. To the west will be a single lane for traffic making the right turn onto westbound 14th Street. The new plaza island also breaks up the lengthy, treacherous 120' crosswalk into two manageable crossings of 34' and 24'.



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A New Vision for the Meatpacking District

The Gansevoort Project Aims to Turn a Chaotic Intersection into a Grand Piazza

At Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer's transportation policy conference last week, DOT Commissioner Iris Weinshall said she was committed to working "with communities and other city agencies to reallocate street space" to "create public plazas in neighborhoods in all five boroughs."

"These open spaces," Weinshall said, "will make walking more enjoyable, preserve neighborhood character, and can serve as the heart of a neighborhood through which all activity can pulse."

The Commissioner's vision of community collaboration producing great new public spaces is a refreshing departure from DOT's traditional, top-down, engineer-driven focus on moving cars and trucks to "maximize vehicular level of service." The question is: How is Weinshall going to make it happen? How will New York City's Department of Transportation transform itself into something more like a Department of Streets and Public Spaces?

An answer to that question appears to be materializing along the cobblestone streets of Manhattan's Meatpacking District. Flying below the radar for more than a year now, a community-driven initiative to transform the broad, chaotic intersection of Ninth Avenue and Gansevoort Street into a thriving piazza is well underway. In the process, the Greater Gansevoort Urban Improvement Project (GGUIP) is quietly emerging as one of New York City's most promising Streets Renaissance initiatives.

What is, perhaps, most notable about the Gansevoort Project is that it isn't being put forward by a big real estate developer or Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff's Economic Development Corporation. Rather, it is a grassroots, community-driven effort. If city officials and Livable Streets advocates want a concrete example of how to make Commissioner Weinshall's public space vision a reality, this is the project to keep an eye on.

The Gansevoort Project is the brainchild of two neighborhood stalwarts, preservationist Jo Hamilton and restaurateur Florent Morellet. Last Monday evening, Hamilton and Morellet convened 150 residents and business owners from around the Meatpacking District to meet with an impressive group of experts and elected officials to share ideas and hammer out a collective vision for their neighborhood.

The process began in early 2005, when Project for Public Spaces began working with business owners and local residents to define problems, identify best practices, and formulate a vision for what people wanted their neighborhood to be (Click here to download PPS's findings). PPS's philosophy is that "If you plan a city for cars and traffic you get cars and traffic. If you plan for people and places, you get people and places."

The PPS approach, honed over decades of developing great public spaces in cities around the world starts with the notion of "community outcomes." By leveraging local knowledge, accounting for unique neighborhood characteristics and balancing competing priorities and modes of transportation, the community outcomes approach helps a neighborhood articulate a vision of what it wants to be.

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