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Parks & Public Spaces

Request by Vornado Realty Trust to install pedestrian plazas for 3 months in the vicinity of Penn Plaza

WHEREAS, Vornado Realty Trust proposes to install temporary pedestrian plazas in the vicinity of Penn Plaza from mid-July to mid-October, 2015; and

WHEREAS, The proposed plazas consist of two distinct parts, namely:

  1. Fully closing the eastern third of 33rd street between 7th and 8th avenues and making the western two thirds of the block a two-way street for the purposes of facilitating delivery to the Penn Plaza buildings and to Madison Square Garden; and
  2. Creating a "shared street" on 32nd Street between 6th and 7th avenue by widening the northern sidewalk for the entire block and the southern sidewalk for the western third of the block, moving a bus standing zone to the center of the south side of the block, and leaving the rest of the block otherwise open for traffic; and

WHEREAS, Vornado proposes to program the plazas with a mix of open space and street furniture to create better pedestrian flow where appropriate and either attractive appealing calm areas or opportunities for active, community-oriented programming where appropriate; and

WHEREAS, Vornado will monitor and adjust the mix of use if necessary; and

WHEREAS, Vornado has created a detailed plan to study the impact of the plazas on pedestrian and vehicular traffic in the vicinity of the proposed plazas (and will end the project early if warranted by significant and sustained adverse effects); and

WHEREAS, Vornado has invited a delegation from Community Board Five to participate in the planning and is willing to provide an "in-flight" report on findings; and

WHEREAS, Vornado will bear all the costs of the plazas, has agreed to forego any revenue-generating activities on the plazas, and will pay for the sanitation of the plazas under the supervision of the 34th Street Partnership; and

WHEREAS, Community organizations such as the 34th Street Partnership and the Municipal Art Society have written letters supporting the proposal; and

WHEREAS, Members of the public including property owners adjacent to the proposed plazas expressed support for the proposal and no members of the public have expressed opposition to the proposal to Community Board Five; and

WHEREAS, The NYC Department of Transportation supports the proposal and has committed to making every effort to prevent SAPO and other New York City agencies from issuing permits for activities or concessions on the plazas for the duration of the pilot; and

WHEREAS, Community Board Five generally supports efforts to creatively share street space and improve traffic flow, pedestrian flow, and the aesthetics of the streets; and

WHEREAS, Community Board Five greatly prefers comprehensive street planning to piecemeal solutions, but finds merit in this proposal; therefore be it

RESOLVED, Community Board Five recommends approval of Vornado Realty Trust's application to DOT to install temporary pedestrian plazas in the vicinity of Penn Plaza.

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