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Sutton Place Park Will Open to Public by Fall 2015, City Says

By Heather Holland | September 5, 2013 6:45am
 Plan to turn a co-op's private garden into a public esplanade is expected to be completed by fall 2015.
1 Sutton Place South
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SUTTON PLACE — The city’s plan to transform the backyard of an exclusive Sutton Place co-op into a public esplanade is expected to be completed and open to the public by fall 2015, the Parks Department announced.

The proposed esplanade, which would sit at 1 Sutton Place South on top of the FDR Drive between East 56th and 57th streets, has already gotten the green light from city agencies, including the Public Design Commission, and is now just waiting for approval from the New York State Department of Transportation, said Parks Department representative Mark Vaccaro during a Community Board 6 meeting Tuesday.

The project must go through the State DOT because the FDR Drive is in the state’s jurisdiction, Vaccaro said.

Once the design — which includes a tree-lined walkway, game tables and benches — is approved by the DOT, the city will start the bidding process for a contractor by next summer, Vaccaro said.

The city hopes to secure a contractor by fall 2014 and will finish the project by the fall of 2015, he said.

City Councilwoman Jessica Lappin secured $1 million to help fund the renovation of the green space, and the Sutton Place co-op pitched in another $1 million.

The park will include gates on the southern and northern ends of the park so that it can be locked at night, although some community members were opposed to the park being gated in the past, said Gary Papush, chair of CB6’s parks committee.

The battle over the backyard at 1 Sutton Place South dates back to 1939, when the city granted the co-op a 50-year lease for the space for $1 a year in exchange for building the FDR.

The lease expired in 1990, but no one came to collect the land until years later, and it wasn’t until November 2011 that city officials announced than an agreement had been reached that would allow residents of the co-op to keep a piece of the green space that connects to rear of their building.