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City's $70M Plaza Upgrades Will Make Them Better Than Times Sq.: Alliance

 A rendering shows what the permanent pedestrian plazas along Broadway might look like.
A rendering shows what the permanent pedestrian plazas along Broadway might look like.
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Garment District Alliance

GARMENT DISTRICT — Temporary pedestrian plazas along Broadway will be converted into permanent ones with new amenities including seating areas, trees, charging stations and WiFi, officials announced.

The west side of Broadway between 34th and 41st streets is lined with small plazas separated from the street by portable planters and painted asphalt, but many of them have cracked pavement because of poor drainage, according to the Garment District Alliance, which is working with the Department of Transportation to improve the public spaces.

Now with a $70 million injection from DOT’s capital plan, the city can start turning the series of temporary pedestrian plazas, which were created in 2009, into permanent ones.

The new plazas will feature additional seating, trees will replace the planters and the ground will be brought to level with the sidewalk, according to a release. Amenities will include charging stations and free WiFi.

Specific plans for the plazas are up in the air pending public input about what should be done with the spaces, but the tune-up will come as a major improvement, according to Barbara Blair Randall, president of the Garment District Alliance.

“It’s going to give us a chance to clean up a litany of problems, but it will also activate the core of the neighborhood,” Randall said. “With lights and trees, this will be a pedestrian connector that will, in my view, be better than Times Square or Herald Square. Certainly it will be calmer and easier to contend with.”

The Alliance applied for funds last fall through the DOT's NYC Plaza Program. The work is slated to wrap up by 2020, according to the release.

Randall said she also hopes to use the funds to install water fountains on every block in an effort to cut down on waste from discarded plastic bottles.

The Garment District Alliance and DOT will hold public meetings throughout the design process to solicit input from the community, Randall said in a statement.

The Alliance on Monday installed wooden planks to bring the plaza surfaces level with sidewalk, which will provide temporary aesthetic and functional relief to the cracked pavement, Randall said.

“As you have them now you have ponding and sunken curbs, and you really know you’re just sitting on a painted road bed,” she said.