In 2013, the Hudson Square Connection Business Improvement District began implementing a $27 million streetscape improvement plan for the neighborhood. The plan involves planting 300 new trees and creating more open space and safer street crossings.
“It’s all about green infrastructure and improving pedestrian environment here,” said Ellen Baer, president of the BID. “We’re creating a neighborhood here that we like to say is economically, socially and environmentally sustainable.”
She said the goal is to make sure people who visit, work or live in Hudson Square feel comfortable walking around the area.
According to Baer, the first 30 trees were planted last fall throughout the neighborhood and another 30 trees will be planted in the next few weeks. She noted the trees are being planted in a way that is sustainable, known as the Hudson Square Standard, which includes using expanded tree pits and permeable pavement that soaks up rainwater into the ground and feeds the trees. The BID is working with the NYC Department of Parks and hopes to get all the trees planted within the next four years.
The BID has already implemented Pedestrian Traffic Managers on Varick Street between Spring and Houston Streets to help ease the bottleneck effect of traffic trying to get to the Holland Tunnel. And Freeman Plaza West, at Hudson Street between Watts and Broome Streets, opened in May. The once unutilized space, owned by The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, now flaunts tables and chairs with lime green umbrellas and 17 new trees that were planted by the BID.
In upcoming months the Partnership is also working with the New York City Parks Department on a new design project for the half-acre SoHo Square Park on Spring Street and Avenue of the Americas. The BID plans to create an urban oasis. Some improvements may include more trees and lighting and perhaps a greenmarket on the weekends. The BID is inviting public input to help work out the details.