Washington Sq Park Phase II Up Next!

Updated January 29, 2010:

Work on Phase II began Fall 2009 and is scheduled to be completed Fall 2010. Note: as of early 2011, the work is scheduled to be completed in Spring 2011. Part of Phase II (Large Dog Run and Mounds) has been moved into Phase III.

Phase II of Washington Square Park’s redesign will focus on the Eastern and Southwestern sections of the Park and will see dramatic changes to : the Garibaldi Plaza, the “Teen Plaza” / Performance Area(no more Teen Plaza, basically, and a big circle will encompass Garibaldi, who will be moved, the stage will be lowered), the Dog Runs(moved to the southern rim of the park), the Chess Area (same # of chess tables but the area will be reduced), the “Mounds”(will be redone and lowered basically so they are less in view and artificial turf will surround them) and more!

A positive has been the Parks Department’s agreement to preserve four (of six) of the Park’s seating alcoves — one reconfigured on the Southeast side while the two on the East side and the one on the Northeast side of the Park will be preserved as they currently are.

If I was in charge (that would be fun!), I would envision Phase II’s reconstruction in two parts, completing the work on the East side of the Park all at once while leaving the Southwest side open. Once finished, I would focus on the other side. This would be preferable to closing off two huge sections of this public park at once.  (Similar to what was unnecessarily done in Phase I with the Fountain and Plaza in addition to the whole NorthWest section of the park being off limits – all at the same time.) 

Phase III (projected date of work unknown) will encompass the comfort stations/bathrooms and the maintenance buildings on the South side of the Park.

An argument could also be made for modification of the plan at this point, given budgetary and other constraints in this climate.

The original budget for all three phases of Washington Square Park’s reconstruction work was approved by the NY City Council at $16 million. Phase I of the project (which opened May 2009) ended up cost $13 million Update: $16 million ! and Phase II was estimated earlier this year at $14 million (Update: Bid came in at $9 million but let’s see the final numbers…).

Adding in Phase III,  we will see the original approved budget of $16 million likely doubled. It’ll be interesting to see what kind of NYC Parks Department and NY City Council oversight we might see in relation to this in the future.

* From September 2010: Problems with Phase II and Why it is so Behind Schedule

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Blog Break

I posted more than usual today (see below) in anticipation of taking the next few weeks off beginning tomorrow, July 15th until Monday, August 10th — barring any breaking news!  Please send in any tips. I’ll still check them.  You can also follow me on twitter.  There’s now a Contact button at the top of the Site and if you want to be apprised if I post something (if you’re not already getting the blog via FeedBurner), send me a note via the form there and I will notify you.  See you soon!

Washington Square Park – Some ‘Old’, Some ‘New’ – in Photos

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old' benches still on E & SW side of Park

old' benches still on E & SW side of Park

'New" benches - environmentally unfriendly made with rainforest wood

'New" benches - environmentally unfriendly made with rainforest wood

SW side of Park

SW side of Park

Photos:  Cat

A Day in the Park

DemolitionSignWSPFountainJune09Photo: Cat

Alright, there wasn’t really a demolition going on at that moment but you get the idea and can add your own caption.

Blog Posting Update …

No new posts today but I have a few in store for tomorrow, Tuesday 7/14. Then I’m taking a blogging break from Wednesday, July 15th to Monday, August 10th.  (If some really key news occurs, I will post it here.)  Check back tomorrow!  

And be certain to read the Archives for posts on the blog you may have missed (there are 423 posts!) – you can Search by term (whatever topic interests you) or by Categories on the far right side column. Also see “Key Posts.”

The ‘New’ Times Square: Public Space as Suburban Mall and Now Also For Rent

New Times Square 1New Times Square 2Seriously, I think I felt more comfortable with how Times Square was before with all the traffic (and even before that when it was really, uh, gritty…) … this is totally geared to tourists. It feels antithetical to what New York is (and can be). Now it is reported that the Bloomberg Administration is selling off the rights to use this “public space,” a definite pattern, according to an article in yesterday’s New York Times:

When Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced plans in February to close stretches of Broadway to traffic to create pedestrian plazas, it was billed as a way to ease congestion and create oases for walkers, people watchers, idlers (chairs and tables were provided) and cyclists. Since the car-free zones were opened in May, they have been home to predictable urban vignettes: tourists resting with their shopping bags, New Yorkers pausing with their cellphones as buses go by a few feet away.

But the plazas can also make money for the city.

Fred Kent, founder and president of Project for Public Spaces, is quoted about the risks involved:  

“If it’s a public event, then that’s O.K., but what can happen very quickly is they can be privatized and limit public use and public access,” Mr. Kent said. He cited the Bryant Park fashion shows as an example of the latter, calling them “the most egregious private use of public space anywhere in the world.”

These “pedestrian plazas” are located: “on Broadway at Times Square from 47th to 42nd Street, at Herald Square from 35th to 33rd Street, and where Broadway and Fifth Avenue meet between 22nd and 25th Streets. Smaller plazas, called Broadway Boulevard, take up one lane of Broadway between 42nd Street and Herald Square.”

Photos:  Cat

Two Events: One about the Park, One at the Park Wed. July 8th – (1) Community Board 2 Meets to Discuss Washington Sq Park Redesign: Phase III; (2) “Park-Lit” Readings: “LOST AND FOUND: Stories from New York”

Wednesday, July 8th:

* Community Bd 2 Parks Committee on WSP Phase III, 6:30 p.m. @ NYU Silver Building, 32 Waverly Pl. Room 206 (I.D Required) Meeting includes:  Presentation and discussion of plans for NYU Mercer St. Open Space – and Presentation and discussion of proposed plan for Washington Square Comfort Station & Maintenance Building (Note: Phase III of Redesign).

* Park-Lit 2009, 6:30 p.m. AT Washington Sq Park. Readings from the new Mr. Beller’s Neighborhood anthology, “LOST AND FOUND: Stories from New York” with Jonathan Ames, Thomas Beller, Rachel Cline, Thomas R. Ziegler. Macdougal Street and Washington Square West, near the Alexander Holley statue.

Free Chess Lessons Begin Today at Wash Sq Park NW Corner Mondays-Thursdays 1-5 p.m. Through August 6th


Beginning Today — Free Chess Lessons at Washington Square Park!
Mondays through Thursdays * 1 pm-5 pm
July 6th – August 6th

Northwest corner of Washington Square Park near Washington Square West and Waverly Place

Instruction for children and adults! All levels welcome – from first-time players to seasoned pros

Master chess instructor available  * Come every day or just once or twice

This program is co-sponsored by Chess-in-the- Schools, the Friends of Washington Square Park and the City of New York Parks and Recreation.


Will Joe Jr.’s, Village Institution for 35 years, close Sunday?

I went in Joe Jr.’s restaurant about four months ago, inspired I think by Vanishing New York’s previous coverage of this Village institution (same location for 35 years).  It’s a real old school New York place located at Sixth Avenue and 12th Street.  I sat at a booth.  It was really comfortable.  I ordered something diner-y, like a grilled cheese and unsweetened iced tea.  They couldn’t have been nicer.  It wasn’t expensive.  Sort of a throw back to how things can be, and were, in NYC.  It’s not glitzy by any means and you’re not going to get the best gourmet meal but not everything has to be about shiny glass buildings and chi chi wine bars and Duane Reade’s on every corner and Wall Street myopia in New York City.  The ‘other’ is what makes New York complete and unique and what it’s renowned for … art and politics and community and grit and controversy and being on the f**king cutting edge … not wiping out all of its past and its future.  It’s something people like Mike Bloomberg say they understand (at least in campaign ads – where he’s all about the ‘average’ New Yorker and supporting small businesses) but so don’t.  After all, actions speak louder than words.  And it is Mike Bloomberg’s actions that are making the ‘other’ New York, places like Joe Jr’s, capsize and disappear.

Read Jeremiah’s Vanishing New York Blog piece today to hear the latest on Joe Jr.’s. It’s another story of a landlord, greed, a lost lease.  There’s a petition in the restaurant… perhaps venture by to sign it.

Note:  Joe Jr.’s did indeed close that Sunday.

NYU: “Thanks for your patience” (Former Provincetown Playhouse Site); the University Continues Its Unregulated Building, Ignoring Community Agreements

Former site of Provincetown Playhouse

On looking at this site on Sunday (6/28), when these photos were taken, it sure didn’t look like much had been preserved despite New York University ultimately agreeing to a mere pittance of preservation at this historic site.  This agreement was “to preserve the four walls and entry facade of the theater portion of the building.” Why does this University not care about architecture and historical preservation?

I asked Andrew Berman from the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation why these buildings aren’t protected by Landmarks regulations.  He informed me that they currently fall outside of the designated Greenwich Village historic district outlined by the Landmarks Preservation Commission(LPC).  There is work being done by GVSHP and others to include the South Village – and the LPC recently made strides to “calendar” serious consideration of expanding the district – however, currently it is not protected.  (You can read more about it at GVSHP’s site.)  This accounts for NYU’s plans being largely unregulated despite all their talk about wanting to be a “good neighbor.”  

Neither the former Provincetown Playhouse or the other building NYU recently got its hands on, 58 Washington Square South (directly across from the Park between Judson Church and NYU’s Kimmel Center – another architectural blunder), are protected in any way and the University has shown that they do not stick to their word.  

Mr. Berman stated:

 “While the 58 Washington Square South site is not in a designated historic district, it is within GVSHP’s proposed South Village Historic District, which NYU begrudgingly, after flip-flopping several times, agreed to support.  In spite of that pledge of support, however, they demolished the building on the site, much as they have with the Provincetown Playhouse and Apartments building at 133 MacDougal Street, also within the proposed South Village Historic District.  So while these sites do not yet fall under LPC regulation, one might have thought that NYU’s pledge to support landmark designation would mean buildings within it were at least safe from demolition by them, but one would be wrong.”

Previous WSP Blog Posts:

* What’s Up With Community Board 2? Approves NYU’s Demolitions Plans for 133-139 MacDougal Street / Provincetown Playhouse Despite Widespread Community Disapproval

* Isn’t there anyone who can outbid or outmaneuver NYU?  58 Washington Sq South Goes to the Dark Side