The Union Square Partnership today announced the release of the Union Square-14th Street District Vision Plan (“Vision Plan”), an ambitious new proposal for the future of the Union Square-14th Street neighborhood that will result in a dramatic 33 percent increase in public space.
The Vision Plan proposes five key projects:
1. Transform 14th Street into a world-class boulevard and transitway. The plan envisions 14th Street as a world-class boulevard by building on the initial positive effects of the City’s busway program. This includes expanded pedestrian areas and designated bus boarding zones, as well as prioritizing access and connectivity to create an activated streetscape. New parklets, trees, planters, and other elements will enhance the walking experience. Sidewalks at Union Square will be doubled in width to alleviate congestion at transit entrances and allow for ground-floor retail activation.
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2. Convert Union Square West into a seamless pedestrian plaza by extending the park all the way to the surrounding buildings. Enlarging the pedestrian area along the full length of Union Square West will create a more unified “town square” feeling and help reduce pedestrian crowding. The plan proposes installing additional seating, encouraging active ground-floor uses, enlarging the subway entrance at 16th Street with an escalator and elevator, and building permanent flexible infrastructure for the Greenmarket.
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3. Create an expansive new open space at the park’s southeast corner. Currently, Triangle Plaza at 4th Avenue is an underutilized public space within a large traffic island. The Plan proposes opening the southbound side of Union Square East to pedestrians to join the plaza to the park and create a large new open space for walking, gathering, and programming. A new pathway through the triangle will improve sightlines and pedestrian access.
4. Build a Broadway Gateway at 17th Street as a permanent extension of the park. In 2011, the NYC Department of Transportation (NYC DOT) implemented a temporary plaza at 17th Street and Broadway, where the roadway widens to meet Union Square Park. The vision for Broadway Gateway Plaza makes this plaza permanent so that it becomes a welcoming “gateway” into the square with a unified paving scheme and park-like elements. This aligns with NYC DOT’s Broadway Visioning plan to complete a 2.5-mile pedestrian-friendly corridor stretching down from Columbus Circle.
5. Develop a new Master Plan for Union Square Park. Creating a new master plan for Union Square Park is vital to meet the needs of today - including neighborhood dynamics and transportation realities - and prepare for the needs of tomorrow. A master plan will be a multiyear undertaking that will result in critical upgrades to the park’s infrastructure, including amenities (such as bike parking and upgraded public restrooms), utilities (e.g., high-speed data, new lighting, better drainage), and landscape (e.g., renovated dog run, improved wheelchair access, new accessible subway entrance).
Renderings: Union Square Partnership/Marvel
Since its opening in 1839, Union Square Park has undergone several design changes, each of which haveincrementally made it a more welcoming and pedestrian-friendly urban public square. This plan seeks to expand the benefits of this great public space into the surrounding community. All told, the plan comprises reconstruction of roughly 1 mile of streets and 3.5 acres of existing park land, construction of a new accessible subway entrance with elevator and escalator, and installation of district-wide streetscape improvements in an area of 20 city blocks.
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