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New Design for Plaza de las Americas Up for Community Review

By Carla Zanoni | January 18, 2011 12:56pm

By Carla Zanoni

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

WASHINGTON HEIGHTS — After more than one year of discussion surrounding the design of a plaza intended to centralize street vendors in Upper Manhattan, residents will soon have the opportunity to weigh in on a plan to make the commercial space more like a town square.

At issue is the future of the Plaza de las Americas, an outdoor market that sits beside the United Palace Theater on a one-block stretch of West 175th Street between Broadway and Wadsworth Avenue. 

The plaza was originally designed in 1994 to alleviate some of the vending congestion that consumed West 181st Street. But since that time, the area has become a poorly-organized space of 20 to 50 scattered vendors, rather than a coherent and inviting community square.

The Washington Heights and Inwood Development Corporation (WHIDC), a nonprofit that manages the plaza and its vendors, would like to change that and has been working since 2009 to find a way to make the space more of a “town square.”

Last year the plaza was selected to be part of the Department of Transportation’s “Public Plazas” program, which endeavors to create open community spaces for residents to enjoy within a 10-minute walk from their homes. The plaza's design was the subject of an initial public discussion in September 2009.

The DOT, NYC Department of Design and Construction and WHIDC will unveil their draft plan for the $1.7 million DOT-funded redesign of the area based on feedback from the public.

Residents and vendors are invited to give feedback on Monday, Jan. 31, at Community Board 12’s office at 711 West 168th Street.

For more information, call 212-795-1600.