For a long time, with the proliferation of cell phones, the payphone has been mostly just a historical curiosity. For years now, they have actually been disappearing from New York City streets. Since January, some of them have been replaced by new public communication structures. Now, with a vote Tuesday by the Landmarks Preservation Commission, those structures will be headed to historic districts and other designated sites.
The World Trade Center’s Liberty Park is now receiving its finishing touches for its grand opening today. The Financial District’s new, one-acre public park is 25 feet above street level and measures 336 feet along Liberty Street between West and Greenwich streets. It will feature 19 planters, a half-dozen species of plants, seating made out of recycled teak, and a 300-foot-long “Living Wall” of greenery along its northern base. Pictures of it ahead of its opening can be seen in a New York Times report. It will be open to all from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. each day. Aecom’s Joseph E. Brown is the landscape architect, and the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey is behind the project. The Santiago Calatrava-designed St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church can also be seen taking shape on the site’s eastern end. That portion of the project is expected to be complete in 2017. YIMBY last brought you an update on Liberty Park when construction was in its final phases in May.
Mayor Steven Fulop, with the Jersey City Redevelopment Agency (JCRA) and other officials, held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Saturday for the 17.5-acre Berry Lane Park, located in the Bergen-Lafayette section of Jersey City. It is the both the city’s largest municipal park and the first new one in decades. The public park is the site of a former brownfield property bound by Garfield Avenue to the west, NJ Transit’s rail tracks to the south, and Woodward Street to the east. It features two basketball courts, two tennis courts, a baseball diamond, a soccer field, bike paths, and two plazas (one with a splash pad). Over 600 new trees have also been planted. The Department of Recreation is in charge of hosting community events and games in the park. The site once consisted of abandoned and underutilized industrial properties, although the city demolished many of the structures, then remediated and graded the land by 2014. Multiple concrete silos were preserved and utilized for the splash pond. Berry Lane Park is right across the street from NJ Transit’s Garfield Avenue Hudson-Bergen Light Rail station.
Earlier this week, the City Council voted to approve a rezoning proposal that would allow landlords of the commercial properties with public pedestrian arcades along Water Street, between Fulton and Whitehall streets in the Financial District, to convert the arcades into retail space in exchange for renovating adjacent public plazas. The total amount of space that could be converted spans 110,000 square feet across 20 buildings, DNAinfo reported. The rezoning requires retail conversions of greater than 7,500 square feet to be approved through the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP). It also limits the amount of street frontage chain banks and drugstores can take up, and requires the entire height of the arcade to be built out. Future renovations to the existing public plazas in the area could include new seating and planters, among other upgrades.
The city’s Parks Department is planning to move forward with transforming the vacant lot at 50-02 39th Avenue, located on the of 50th Street in Sunnyside, into a public park. The city recently designated $3 million to acquire the property from its owner, DBH Associates, DNAinfo reported. DBH acquired the plot in 2007 for $1.45 million and is open to selling the property. The owner attempted to built a two-story, eight-unit apartment building at the site, but the Landmarks Preservation Commission disapproved the plans in 2014. The site is located within the Sunnyside Gardens Historic District, which means the design of the park (and its structural elements) will have to be approved by the LPC.