By Julie Shapiro
FINANCIAL DISTRICT — The city is looking for a few good ideas for Water Street.
The key downtown corridor is friendlier to cars than pedestrians today, but the city wants to transform the street into an accessible, landscaped boulevard.
"Water Street is an ideal location for streetscape improvements that enhance the pedestrian experience," said Kyle Sklerov, spokesman for the Economic Development Corp. "The potential improvements will transform Water Street into an active pedestrian destination for the entire area to enjoy.”
To move the project forward, the EDC released a request for proposals this week looking for consultants to study the street and propose changes.
The idea for a Water Street overhaul came from the Downtown Alliance business improvement district. Last summer, the Alliance unveiled a vision for the street that included new landscaped plazas with public seating, improved dining and retail options, public artwork and free cultural events.
The consultant the city selects may develop different ideas to improve the street, but the basic plan to turn Water Street into a boulevard with more space for people and less space for cars will likely remain.
Downtown Alliance President Liz Berger said in a statement that she is glad the city is taking action on the changes to Water Street. She noted that the city has already taken another concrete step toward the Alliance's vision by proposing public seating for the underused sidewalks there.
"Transformations like that one, and more to come, will help Water Street maintain its status as one of the city's premier places to do business," Berger said.
Water Street between Fulton Street and Whitehall Street is home to more than 19 million square feet of commercial space and has recently attracted new tenants including the New York Daily News.
Once the EDC chooses a consultant for the Water Street makeover, the firm will likely have six months to a year to produce a feasibility study, including renderings, cost estimates and traffic and engineering surveys. The EDC will then decide how many of the improvements to fund and implement.