Meeting on Astor Place/Cooper Square Reconstruction

Posted on: January 7th, 2011 at 6:42 am by

About fifty neighborhood folk turned out for last night’s Community Boards 2 & 3 Joint Astor Place Task Force meeting. The gathering was held in the main room at the JASA/Green residence, which reeked of wet paint and a faint hint of weed. But that’s neither here nor there. DOT, DDC, and the architects’ spokespeople powered through a slideshow outlining the proposal to completely retool the confluence of Astor Place and Cooper Square. The gathering was pretty much a two-year homecoming, as similar ideas were presented before the joint board in July 2008. Snail’s pace, for sure!

The upper stem of the Bowery, where our beloved thoroughfare forks, is completely hazardous. Crossing the street here is like a perpetual game of Frogger.  So the planners and landscape architects ultimately set out to transform the area from “a liability to an asset.” Here’s how – by converting pavement to parkspace, planting green infrastructure (64 trees) that will simultaneously aid with drainage, adding benches, and 113 new bike racks.

The first monumental change is the Astor Place subway island.  Proposal seeks to widen the narrow sidewalk into a plaza complete with “diverse seating options” and a path through a “grove of trees.” Oh, and a little cosmetic surgery for the entrance itself.

Next would be filling in the sliver of Astor Place between Lafayette and Cooper Square, which runs alongside the Rosenthal Alamo cube. More perimeter trees, cafe seating, and an open plaza are all components of the plan.

The plan also calls for a Cooper Triangle facelift, which includes more of the same.

Then there’s the confusing collection of medians below Cooper Triangle which would be forged into a large open space called Village Plaza. This is the area directly in front of the Village Voice HQ.

But the proposal didn’t go over very well with the task force and residents alike.  The bone of contention was that city planning didn’t listen to the criticisms posed two years ago.  Indeed, Susan Stetzer in particular was quite vocal in her opposition, especially with regard to the proposed seating in Cooper Triangle and Village Plaza.  Much like the July 2008 meeting, many still fear that the already overburdened nightlife scene here (i.e. Cooper Square Hotel) will spill over into these newly-created park spaces.  Stetzer’s quote of the night pretty much summarized the community position: “it’s [the plan] beautiful but you’re making it miserable for the people who live here.”

Despite the static, both boards unanimously passed the design proposal, with the exception of the permanent seating outside Cooper Triangle Park.

Recent Stories

‘Writing On It All’ Reclaims Space For Community Arts On Governor’s Island

There’s one more week to write and draw on a Nolan Park House. Just a short ferry ride away from the LES, Governors Island is an adventure that we should all take, and regularly as weather allows. For one more week you can catch the community-oriented interactive installation, ‘Writing On It All.’ Nolan Park House […]

Hanksy Brings ‘Market Surplus’ of 10 Artists to Paint Vacant Essex Market Warehouse

Street artist Hanksy this week continues the tradition of hosting art shows in buildings doomed for demolition. With the Lowline Lab months in the grave, he’s gathered a gaggle of creative friends for a group exhibition inside the vacant Essex Street Market building at 140 Essex. The show – dubbed “Market Surplus” (get it?) – […]

Traipsing Around Town with Ugo Rondinone’s ‘I ♥ John Giorno’

Imagine having been part of the Beat Generation and Pop Art era. You could go to a phone booth (remember those?) and dial a poem; You could be filmed by Andy Warhol for hours – while sleeping; You might even be neighbors on the Bowery with William Burroughs. Or be a fly on the wall, […]

Someone Trashed the Blueprints for the Ace Hotel Bowery on the Sidewalk

Trash is sometimes treasure. Everyone knows that 225 Bowery is to become the newest Ace Hotel in the stable. However, the company never officially confirmed their intentions here. Even as the transformative construction work atop the building proceeds. Well, official blueprints trashed on Chrystie Street late Tuesday night all but confirm this. We had received […]

Essex Street Light Poles are Now LED-Equipped

The lighting scheme along Essex Street is presently undergoing a complete shift to more modern technology. That warm glow is now replaced with the blinding antiseptic flood of LED. The Department of Transportation has begun swapping the infrastructure, and at least four new poles are now installed. We caught this crew hoisting one into place […]