New York state recently provided a windfall for the compact Lower Manhattan district known as Hudson Square. Now it wants to transform the streetscape from a conveyor of goods to a conveyor of people.
Gov. Hochul announced last week that she is investing $4.5 million in a plan submitted by the Hudson Square Business Improvement District through the NY Forward program, a grant to invigorate urban areas. The funding will be used in large part to build up the neighborhood’s pedestrian and green spaces in the coming years.
The roughly 33-square block neighborhood, which sits at the entrance to the Holland Tunnel, is mostly commercial in use, with over 12 million square feet of office space. In the 20th century it was home to many printing businesses, but has transformed into a media-related hub for advertising, design and communications businesses over the last few decades.
“Those businesses don’t require huge loading docks with trucks the same way, so we’re trying to repurpose a lot of that space by widening sidewalks, putting in a bike lane, putting in some seating amenities, which is really important when you’re looking at anybody that has a mobility issue or just wants to take a minute to rest,” Hudson Square BID President Samara Karasyk said.
The neighborhood has also built up a collection of cultural and culinary destinations featuring hotels, restaurants and coffee shops, not to mention, the historic Ear Inn, one of the oldest bars in the city. To facilitate the influx of new visitors and workers, the sidewalks that were designed narrowly for commercial traffic will be expanded and get some new improvements.
Google, for instance, is opening its new building on Washington Street later this month with a million square feet of commercial space, so the BID is gearing up for a new stream of commuters from the 1 train.
The NY Forward grant will go toward an ambitious 10-year plan that the BID created to transform the neighborhood. The proposed street design is aimed around connecting the neighborhood to the waterfront at Hudson River Park, on the other side of West Street, and surrounding neighborhoods.
Though the project doesn’t have a fixed timeline for completion yet, Karasyk said that over the coming months the BID will work with a planning committee including members of the city Department of Transportation, Borough President’s Office and several state agencies to go through the street projects and decide which to kickstart.
The BID’s master plan prioritizes three main corridors for street improvement. One would focus on pedestrian improvements on Greenwich Street from the northern part of the neighborhood to Canal Street, one would strengthen the East-West connection along West Houston street and the third would focus on enhancing the Hudson River Park connections along Washington Street.
But the planning committee may also look at other types of projects that community groups submit to fund with the grant.
“We feel like, whatever programs are chosen, bringing $4.5 million into our neighborhood is going to be amazing. There’s a process that we’ll go through and it will be a little while before we know where it will be spent but we’re just so excited” Karasyk said.