Progress Report: Hudson Square — Trees, parks and all that jazz

Amid the bustle of Hudson Square, Freeman Plaza East offers a feeling of bucolic tranquility in the big city.
Amid the bustle of Hudson Square, Freeman Plaza East offers a feeling of bucolic tranquility in the big city.

BY ELLEN BAER | From bringing new life to Hudson Square’s sidewalks to creating outdoor spaces that generate an inviting, “campus-like” environment, the Hudson Square Connection is proud to set the standard in sustainable urban planning and development, with exciting projects on the horizon that will enhance the community for the more than 50,000 people who come to the neighborhood every day to work, live and explore.

Hudson Square is generally bounded by W. Houston St. on the north, Canal St. on the south, Sixth Ave. on the east and Greenwich St. on the west.

As part of our commitment to make Hudson Square a place for people, we have undertaken several public-private partnerships, including one with the Department of Parks and the New York Tree Trust to plant and retrofit trees using the award-winning Hudson Square Standard tree pit. Hailed as the platinum standard for urban forestry, this design yields major environmental and health benefits. This state-of-the-art tree pit program significantly reduces carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and addresses flooding by capturing more than 2.4 million gallons of storm water annually. We are now entering our final phase, and when completed we will have accomplished our ambitious goal of installing 250 Hudson Square Standard trees in the neighborhood.

Through an additional partnership with Parks, in March we marked the beginning of an exciting renovation of the currently named Soho Square, the park at Spring St. and Sixth Ave. With construction set to begin later this year and completion scheduled for 2018, our new park will serve as an inviting, sustainable area where workers, residents and visitors alike can connect, collaborate and relax. With its graphic inspiration and sustainable design, the park will connect Hudson Square to its neighbors, its history and its future.

In addition, through a public-private partnership with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the spaces surrounding the Holland Tunnel — previously an unfriendly inaccessible area — were transformed into an outdoor gathering space that now boasts trees, seating, bistro-style tables and umbrellas. As we spring into the warmer months, we’ll celebrate the re-opening of these spaces at “Freeman Plaza” with a special kickoff celebration for the community on Thurs., May 12, featuring delicious bites from EET and live music.

Freeman Plaza East is located on Varick St., between Broome and Watts Sts., and this summer will feature live musical performances weekly in June and July.

Freeman Plaza West is located on Hudson St., between Broome and Watts Sts., and will offer a break from the workday with giant-size games, a little free library, and a selfie frame (positioned to capture the perfect selfie with the Freedom Tower). Freeman Plaza East and West are open during weekdays from 8 a.m. until dusk.

With the help of our community, government partners and local businesses, we are eager to advance these developments and continue to make premier investments that will enrich our neighborhood and contribute to the creative, innovative culture of Hudson Square.

Baer is president and C.E.O., Hudson Square Connection business improvement district