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Try Your Hand at Remodeling Orchard Street With Interactive LES Workshop

By Serena Solomon | February 17, 2014 2:59pm | Updated on February 17, 2014 3:03pm
 The Lower East Side Business Improvement District is planning to give Orchard Street a makeover.
Orchard Street
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LOWER EAST SIDE — Think you can build a better Orchard Street? Now's your chance to prove it.

Residents and business owners who want to try out their ideas on how to redesign Orchard Street's streetscape can experiment with their plan at an interactive workshop Wednesday night, sponsored by the Lower East Side Business Improvement District.

The BID has created a 16-foot replica of Orchard Street's corridor — complete with movable miniature benches and bike corrals — so participants can try out their ideas for a makeover of the commercial corridor on Wednesday at the Tenement Museum.

The redesign of Orchard Street is a key focus for the BID, according to its new executive director, Tim Laughlin.

"We believe this is the way neighborhoods should think about their streets — with creativity and innovation and all stakeholders working to address the needs of everyone who uses the space," Laughin said in a statement. "With Orchard Street, we hope we can create a new standard for how other projects can move ahead."

The scaled model, made from Styrofoam by the Lower East Side-based Pilot Projects Design Collective, takes a "gaming" approach to planning, according to Laughlin, who took over the BID last October. Those who attend the event will be able to move miniature benches, bike racks and sidewalks corrals that are made from wire around the model like a game board.

The BID has already received $60,000 from City Councilwoman Margaret Chin to bring improvements along Orchard Street between Canal and East Houston streets. This will include 40 new trees, additional street furniture and safety and traffic flow improvements.  

An online survey for the Orchard Street makeover is also being conducted for those who can’t attend the workshop.

The community design workshop will be held on Feb. 19 from 6:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. at the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, 103 Orchard St.