New York City Council Member Keith Powers announced this week the next steps in a plan to bring new life to Midtown’s Park Avenue traffic medians. The newly-revealed plan will transform the avenue’s current malls into “new, world-class, active open space,” according to a press release. A landscape architect will be hired by the Department of Transportation to create a master plan according to a request for proposal, to be issued in the spring.
The catalyst for the long-awaited update is the Metro-North Railroad rehabilitation project scheduled for the Grand Central Terminal Train Shed beneath Park Avenue. As a result, the Park Avenue traffic medians between 46th Street and 57th Street will be completely rebuilt over a 20-year period.
The construction will provide an opportunity to reimagine the public areas with spacious, connected open medians in the interest of making East Midtown more visitor-friendly and bringing economic growth to the neighborhood.
Powers, who is also Chair of the East Midtown Public Realm Improvement Fund Governing Group, said in a statement: “With this news, we’re taking a major step forward in creating more open, accessible public space for people and businesses in the bustling area of East Midtown. The pandemic has already accelerated a movement towards a more pedestrian-friendly experience across the city, and this project is a great example of how shifting priorities can help shape a more enjoyable streetscape.”
As 6sqft previously reported, in 2018, Fisher Brothers sponsored “Beyond the Centerline,” an open competition calling for ideas for transforming the traffic medians on Park Avenue between 46th and 57th Streets.
The winning jury-selected entry, “Park Park,” courtesy of Ben Meade, Anthony Stahl, and Alexia Beghi of design firm Maison, envisioned the iconic thoroughfare via a series of raised platforms that would hold a concert space, art galleries, gardens, a restaurant, and a basketball court, “intended to inject new energy into the currently staid Park Avenue landscape.”
In 2020, NYCDOT began gathering feedback from the local community for the new open space along Park Avenue. There were more than 1,700 responses from the public.
“This investment in East Midtown comes at a pivotal moment for New York’s recovery,” Council Member and former Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer said in a statement. “Now is the perfect time to re-imagine this stretch of Park Avenue as there is an opportunity to create something truly unique in one of our most important central business districts as we upgrade our critical transportation infrastructure.”
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Neighborhoods : Midtown East