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Elevated Piazza Is High Line’s Final Act

Plans for the Spur, designated here as Phase 2, is due to start late this year. | GOOGLE MAPS/ COURTESY OF FRIENDS OF THE HIGH LINE
Plans for the Spur, designated here as Phase 2, is due to start late this year. | GOOGLE MAPS/ COURTESY OF FRIENDS OF THE HIGH LINE

BY YANNIC RACK | The northern section of the High Line could soon get a large public piazza and provide the Hudson Yards neighborhood with the park’s largest open space.

Construction on the last stretch of the elevated park — the area known as the Spur that juts out eastward from its West 30th Street stretch, between 11th and 10th Avenues — is scheduled to start later this year, according to the city Department of Parks & Recreation.

Preliminary plans for the section were approved by the city’s Design Commission this month, and include a 4,500-square-foot square above 10th Avenue, as well as balconies, a concession area, and stepped seating space.

“It’s going to be awesome,” said Cub Barrett, a spokesperson for Friends of the High Line, the group that maintains and programs the park’s 1.45 miles snaking along the West Side between Gansevoort Street in the West Village and West 34th Streets.

“We’re very excited about it. It’s something that has been in talks for a long time, and we’re happy things are moving along,” Barrett added.

The Spur will send parkgoers right by 10 Hudson Yards, the first office tower of the new neighborhood, which cantilevers over the walkway. | JAMES CORNER FIELD OPERATIONS AND DILLER SCOFIDIO + RENFRO
The Spur will send parkgoers right by 10 Hudson Yards, the first office tower of the new neighborhood, which cantilevers over the walkway. | JAMES CORNER FIELD OPERATIONS AND DILLER SCOFIDIO + RENFRO

The Spur would be split into three sections, starting with a passage jutting off from the park’s westbound turn at West 30th Street and running underneath 10 Hudson Yards, the first office tower of the massive development that would cantilever over the rail tracks.

The walkway would include two balconies that offer vertical views up the tower’s glass façade, as well as space for food vendors similar to those found on other covered passages along the High Line.

A densely planted threshold would then lead out onto the piazza, which is to be framed by seating steps and enlivened by a rotating arts program.

“When we were trying to figure out what to do with the space, we sort of went back to our roots and looked at what we’re good at — and that’s horticulture, programming, and public art,” Barrett said.

In addition to new art works, the roughly 10,000 square feet available along the Spur would also provide additional space for existing programs like the park’s Teens Art Council program and Latin dance parties, according to the Friends.

“The Spur will also provide much-needed storage space for park operations, maintenance, and horticulture, as well as additional public restrooms — meeting a need voiced by our park visitors,” notes the group’s website.

Preliminary plans for the final stretch of the High Line include a 4,500-square-foot public piazza jutting out west along West 30th Street from 11th to 10th Avenue. | JAMES CORNER FIELD OPERATIONS AND DILLER SCOFIDIO + RENFRO
Preliminary plans for the final stretch of the High Line include a 4,500-square-foot public piazza jutting out west along West 30th Street from 11th to 10th Avenue. | JAMES CORNER FIELD OPERATIONS AND DILLER SCOFIDIO + RENFRO

The design of the space is in the hands of James Corner Field Operations, the landscape designers behind the rest of the park, and Diller Scofidio + Renfro, its original architects.

A parks department spokesperson said construction is scheduled to start in the fourth quarter of 2016.

The budget for the Spur is $31 million, with $15 million privately raised by Friends of the High Line and Related Companies, one of the developers of Hudson Yards, contributing another $15M as part of a zoning contribution. The city is providing the rest of the money, roughly $1 million.

The first phase of the park’s northern section, comprising the park’s east-west transverse along West 30th Street, opened in September 2014 and cost roughly $34 million to build, by comparison.

Although the Spur represents the last portion of the High Line that has not been restored and opened to the public yet, Barrett said the Interim Walkway wrapping around the rail yards between West 30th and West 34th Streets still had a fenced-off section that would become accessible some time in the future, as well.

“There are plans to build that out at some point, but nothing is on the books yet,” he said.

The mid-section of the extension would send visitors through a planted threshold to the piazza — a remnant, perhaps, of earlier plans that called for a “dense woodland” experience. | JAMES CORNER FIELD OPERATIONS AND DILLER SCOFIDIO + RENFRO
The mid-section of the extension would send visitors through a planted threshold to the piazza — a remnant, perhaps, of earlier plans that called for a “dense woodland” experience. | JAMES CORNER FIELD OPERATIONS AND DILLER SCOFIDIO + RENFRO

The tracks running along the Spur were originally built to support freight trains headed to the US Postal Service Morgan Processing and Distribution Center that sits on the block between Ninth and 10th Avenues, and West 29th and West 30th Streets.

Earlier plans for the Spur, eventually abandoned, included a Jeff Koons-designed art installation called “Train,” that would have featured a full-size replica of a 1940s steam locomotive suspended from a crane above the tracks, according to the Friends of the High Line.

The last concept floated for the site was a bowl-shaped structure “rimmed with dense woodlands, meant to offer an immersive experience of nature in the heart of New York City,” according to the group’s website, but those plans, too, were abandoned, due to cost and space constraints.

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