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Transportation & Environment

Planned capital improvements at the Pershing Square East plaza on Park Avenue between 41st and 42nd Streets

At the regularly scheduled monthly Community Board Five meeting on Thursday, February 13, 2020, the following resolution passed with a vote of 35 in favor; 0 opposed; 1 abstaining:

WHEREAS, In 2009, Community Board Five recommended approval of the southbound lanes of Park Avenue between 41st and 42nd Streets, which had operated as a Seasonal Street activity for the past decade, for inclusion in the NYC Plaza Program, and

WHEREAS, In 2011, Community Board Five recommended approval of a design concept for the southbound lanes as a permanent year-round pedestrian plaza; and

WHEREAS, The resulting pedestrian plaza Pershing Square West is currently located and operated in the former southbound lanes of Park Avenue between 42nd and 41st Streets, flanked by the Altria Building at 120 Park Avenue and the landmark Pershing Square Viaduct; and

WHEREAS, In 2013, Community Board Five likewise supported the complementary closing to vehicular traffic of the northbound lanes of Park Avenue between 41st and 42nd Streets, to create a complementary pedestrian mall on the Pershing Square East plaza; and

WHEREAS, The Department of Transportation (DOT) and the Department of Design and Construction (DDC), in partnership with Grand Central Partnership (GCP), now seeks to transform the eastern plaza into a permanent installation for the benefit of residents, commuters and visitors of the Grand Central neighborhood, complementing the permanent design and features of the western plaza; and

WHEREAS, The proposed design concept mirrors the treatment of the western plaza, including tables and chairs, resurfacing the sidewalk and street to create a level grade for the benefit of pedestrians, and is aesthetically harmonious with the architectural character of the surrounding area including the landmark Grand Central Terminal, the landmark Park Avenue Viaduct, and the Pershing Square Building; and

WHEREAS, The proposed design accommodates the functional needs of the Pershing Square cafe
restaurant and the Pershing Square Building, including egress and access; and

WHEREAS, The design incorporates and maintains access to the Citibike station currently operated in
Pershing Square East, which is one of the most highly-trafficked and utilized stations in the city; and

WHEREAS, The design has been developed in collaboration with the Fire Department of New York
(FDNY) to allow emergency access via horizontal swing gates aligned with the protective bollards of the
plaza; and

WHEREAS, The transformation of the existing temporary plaza to a year-round installation will complete
the creation of the approved neighborhood plaza under the NYC Plaza Program; and

WHEREAS, The design and transformation of the eastern plaza is supported by tenants and buildings
bordering the plaza; and

WHEREAS, The design prioritizes pedestrian safety and security via incorporation of bollards placed in
collaboration with the New York Police Department (NYPD), and while Community Board Five supports
the inclusion of security precautions to the satisfaction of security professionals as a top priority, the
board stresses that bollards and other security measures should be carefully and holistically designed to
avoid redundancy, minimize pedestrian impediment, and maximize aesthetic integration with the
surrounding area; and

WHEREAS, Community Board Five recognizes the benefit of the pedestrianization of both Pershing
Square West and Pershing Square East, but also calls for the exploration of extending both plazas
logically further south to 40th Street, where the Pershing Square Viaduct concludes, and calls for ongoing
plans to expand the pedestrian plaza to be approached in a comprehensive way instead of piecemeal
iteration; therefore be it

RESOLVED, Community Board Five recommends approval of the design concept and planned capital
improvements proposed by the Department of Transportation and the Department of Design and
Construction for the Pershing Square East plaza.

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