Outside the office. Soon to be park? Photo by Duncan Meisel
The Voice‘s doorstep is getting a makeover. Earlier this week, The Villager reported on new Department of Transportation plans that call for an overhaul of Astor Place and Cooper Square, widening sidewalks and park space, while eliminating several lanes of car-traffic.
This is not the first time DOT proposed a shift in the traffic patterns at Astor Place. A redesign proposal stalled out in 2005 due to community opposition to disrupting a lane of 8th Street that runs through the square. The new plans eliminate the portion of Astor St. through the square while realigning 8th Street to accommodate Astor’s traffic.
The plan’s other big change would be the elimination of street space along Cooper Square south of Astor place—immediately outside the Voice‘s office. Instead of a low-traffic asphalt expanse, the office will face out onto the “Village Plaza,” a park-like area between 5th and 6th Streets running along 3rd Avenue.
The released plans continue a city-planning trend epitomized by the in-progress ‘Broadway Boulevard’ project that eliminates a lane of traffic on Broadway between 42nd street and Herald Square in Manhattan for the sake of wider sidewalks and a protected bike lane. Astor Place currently ranks number one in the Project for Public Space’s “Big Apple Hall of Shame” for poor use of public space. (PPS also has a sneak peak at what the future Astor Place may look like from above.)
DOT’s announcement follows a series of large real-estate developments in Cooper Square and Astor Place. Cooper Union is in the midst of construction on a new academic building on the East side of the Square. The Cooper Square Hotel, immediately adjacent Cooper Union’s new building, is also slated to open in the coming months. The school also sold its Engineering Building at 51 Astor place, which will be replaced by a granite-and-glass office building.
At Astor Place. Photo by Duncan Meisel.