MEATPACKING DISTRICT — A highly trafficked pedestrian plaza in the Meatpacking District will close for up to two years of construction starting this spring or summer, as the city upgrades water mains and redesigns the surrounding streets.
Gansevoort Plaza, at Ninth Avenue and Gansevoort Street, was created as part of a traffic-calming project in 2008, and features planters, concrete sculptures and seating. The cobblestoned space hosts events like outdoor yoga classes in the warmer months and is a popular spot for local workers to take their lunch breaks.
The approximately $18 million Gansevoort Area Reconstruction Project, spearheaded by the Department of Design and Construction, must shut down Gansevoort Plaza so the city can tear up the area to work on water mains below the street's surface, officials said. The city will also reconfigure the streets to improve traffic flow and replace the streets' cobblestones.
While the pedestrian plaza will be closed, traffic will be maintained on Ninth Avenue throughout the project, DDC said.
The construction can only take place when the temperature is more than 30 degrees, so it will begin in the spring or summer and could last for up to two years, DDC Executive Director Maria Centeno told DNAinfo New York.
The city has instructed contractor Triumph Construction to do as much preparatory work as possible this winter, including filing paperwork and hiring a team, so that the construction can move quickly once it begins, Centeno said.
“It upsets the community when you’re taking all the space and not really working,” Centeno said. “We don’t like to start just for the sake of starting if we’re not really physically doing construction anytime soon.”
But locals were unhappy to hear that the plaza would be closed at all — particularly during the busier summer months.
“If they wanted to shut it down in the beginning of December and open it in March, that’s one thing,” said Corbin Parker, 22, a manager at the Michael Stars boutique at 32 Gansevoort St. “But if it’s the beginning of spring, that’s going to affect us.”
Corbin worried that construction on the plaza, which is right in front of the store, would drive away customers.
“It’s going to affect business,” he said. “So many people sit there, it’s a great attraction.”
DDC will present more information about the the project to Community Board 2 in the spring, Centeno said. DDC and Triumph will also set up a “field office” where an on-site Community Construction Liaison will “keep the community informed of the project and address any concerns during construction,” she said.
With reporting by Rosie Goldensohn.