The DNAinfo archives brought to you by WNYC.
Read the press release here.

East Midtown's Concrete Plaza to Get Major Overhaul With New Garden

 The plaza, which is located at East 24th Street between First and Second Avenues, will receive new greenery, more light, and a state-of-the-art playground.
East Midtown Plaza Redesign
View Full Caption

KIPS BAY — The central plaza of affordable housing co-op East Midtown Plaza is due for a long-awaited redesign — the first overhaul since the space was built in the 1970s.

The public space, which is located at East 24th Street between First and Second avenues, will be getting new greenery, more light, and a state-of-the-art playground, according to East Midtown Plaza's Board of Directors.

"We expect the new plaza to be a bright and green addition to our community for many years," East Midtown Plaza General Manager Geri Roberson said in a statement to DNAinfo.

Residents of the housing co-op's 748 units were invited to answer a survey asking what kind of features they would like to see in the design.

Two hundred surveys were returned, suggesting improvements like more playground equipment, an unobstructed view of all areas, and a walking path suitable for seniors — all of which has been promised by the Board of Directors.

In addition, the plaza's infrastructure is expected to get a complete overhaul, including replacing all concrete structures, drainage systems and electrical and lighting systems.

Work is scheduled to begin roughly Aug. 3 and is expected to be completed in early 2017. The new plaza is designed by WXY Studio, whose previous projects include North Brooklyn's Transmitter Park and the Battery Park Bosque.

Today, the square at the center of the six-building co-op is a patchwork of cracked concrete. The amphitheater in the middle shows signs of deterioration, with large chunks that have fallen off and have been replaced with lighter cement.

Two dozen trees cast shade along the perimeter of the square, and the small playground in the north-west corner has a considerable amount of foliage. But the new design will move the playground to the center of the plaza, and some residents were concerned that the new spot wouldn't have enough shade for the children.

"I don't mind the playground being in the middle," said Barbara Singer, a resident. "I just hope the sun won't be too much for the children."

The corner where the playground is now located will be replaced with a new garden, featuring "many varieties of flowering shrubs and trees and native plants that will be easy to grow and maintain," according to the Board of Directors.

The amphitheater will also be removed as part of the redesign, but it will be replaced by other seating, said Eleanor Goldman, president of the board.

But removing the amphitheater would be a big loss, said Singer, adding that she preferred the current design.

"They are making changes to a landmark," she said.

East Midtown Plaza resident Yvonne, who was taking a stroll by the playground on a recent afternoon and declined to reveal her last name, said she's looking forward to the renovations.

"Whatever they do is going to be better than this," she said. "Anything is better than concrete."

But she was also worried that the children would get overheated playing in the middle of the square.

"I hope they are going to have a sprinkler system for the kids to play in," she said.

Janice Kabel, a member of East Midtown Plaza's Board of Directors, told DNAinfo that the feedback from the community had mostly been positive, and she too looks forward to the much needed face lift, she said.

"I don't know what they were thinking 50 years ago when they designed this place," Kabel said. "There is so much concrete."