BY FANNI FRANKL
The Hudson Square Business Improvement District (BID) recently unveiled a new outdoor dining initiative called “parklets” to aid restaurant owners during the pandemic.
These “parklets” use the parking space provided to the restaurants to enhance the outdoor space and to create a neighborhood that is welcoming to workers and customers as businesses reopen. The new development is part of New York City’s ‘Open Restaurants’ initiative to provide restaurants with more outdoor seating to welcome as many customers as possible. The “parklets” provide expanded seating next to the street consistent with the City’s requirements. The neighborhood has seen a large decline in foot traffic during the coronavirus.
Restaurants Getting Hungry, Adoro Lei and Houseman are the first three restaurants in the Hudson Square neighborhood to have the spaces installed in a neighborhood that is characterized as being predominantly a commercial business district. The Hudson Square BID additionally provided these restaurants with planters, furniture and umbrellas to further liven up the curbside spaces and make them as inviting as possible.
Suzy Chnagar, Vice President of Marketing and Communications at the Hudson Square BID commented about the challenges businesses had to face during the coronavirus and how they have helped alleviate some of their troubles.
“Hudson Square is primarily a business neighborhood and we have definitely felt the strain from these businesses,” she said. “The residential spaces have started to come back but it hurts that these businesses were affected so much. We provide amenities in the public realm to try and create these inviting spaces that people can return to.”
Ned Baldwin, owner of the restaurant Houseman, noted that Hudson Square BID was very helpful in putting them back on their feet, especially in a city where it is easy to be forgotten.
“We’re getting 15-25% of our normal sales which is not great. I think the BID revenue is fantastic, though, because I get a lot of attention,” he said. “There are not very many retail businesses in the Hudson Square BID since it’s a lot of advertising and design. If I was in the West Village, I would be competing with hundreds; it’s quieter down here.”
The Hudson Square BID has provided crossing guards (which currently are not out), planting trees and painting graphic designs on the streets to reflect the color and artistry found throughout the neighborhood.
“The best way we can help our retailers right now is make the neighborhood a place where people want to be. The public realm has an important role to play in providing the outdoor space we need to support our businesses during COVID,” said BID President and CEO, Ellen Baer. “Parklets are an important first step.”
Updated at 4:46 p.m.