By Julie Shapiro
FINANCIAL DISTRICT — Tables, chairs and shrubs will soon replace cars on a block of Water Street in lower Manhattan.
The city’s latest pedestrian plaza will close the right fork of Water Street between Whitehall and Moore Streets within the next couple weeks. By the early fall, the city plans to reopen the block with orange-painted pavement and new seating and plantings.
In addition to giving residents, workers and tourists a place to pause and eat their lunch, the plaza will also make the complicated intersection of Water and Whitehall Streets safer, the Department of Transportation said.
Nine pedestrians and eight people in cars were injured there between 2004 and 2008, the DOT said. The new plaza will shorten the distance pedestrians travel to cross both Water and Whitehall Streets and it will narrow the streets so drivers have clearer sightlines.
The plaza will eliminate 10 parking and loading spaces. The DOT plans to create one additional space on Whitehall Street.
The new plaza sits across from the Staten Island Ferry Terminal, where the city and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority are building the much larger Peter Minuit Plaza, slated to open this fall.
The idea for the Water Street plaza came from the Downtown Alliance business improvement district, which proposed a sweeping overhaul of Water Street earlier this summer.
The Alliance hopes to rebuild Water Street, a key commercial corridor, as a pedestrian-friendly boulevard studded with public art. This plaza at the street’s southern tip is the first step in the Alliance’s long-term vision.
Community Board 1’s Financial District Committee supported the Water Street plaza after hearing a presentation from the DOT earlier this month.
“We look forward to it being open sooner rather than later,” said Catherine McVay Hughes, a committee member, “so people can enjoy it in the warm weather.”