EAST VILLAGE — City officials gathered Wednesday morning in the newly redesigned Astor Place to celebrate the completion of the area's new pedestrian plazas and widened sidewalks, and to give the renovated and reinstalled Alamo Cube an inaugural spin.
Commissioners of the Department of Transportation and Department of Design and Construction, the two agencies that collaborated on the years-long reconstruction, joined local elected officials for a ribbon-cutting in front of the beloved three-dimensional sculpture that made its long-awaited comeback to the plaza two weeks ago.
The return of the cube, like the completion of the extensive redesign, had been delayed for several months — but now, more than three years since the project's kickoff in Sept. 2013, 42,000 square feet of new pedestrian space sprawls from East Eighth Street down to Cooper Triangle, officials noted.
"We were able to take this area, reclaim some of it from the automobile, make it safer and more inviting," said DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg.
"This was a big project and I know, looking at some of the elected officials and the community members, I know it took a long time and there was a lot of disruption, and I thank them for their patience. But now we will have beautiful public space, new benches and trees, water mains replaced underneath."
The newly renovated public space includes two pedestrian plazas — Alamo Plaza, which surrounds the spinning cube, and Village Plaza between East Fifth and East Sixth streets — each with new benches and greenery.
The $21 million project also includes larger sidewalks for increased pedestrian safety, new trees, bike racks, and bioswales — in-ground irrigation systems — and new curbs for improved drainage during storms.
The project officially wrapped up roughly a week ago, when DDC reps walked through the site with contractors to inspect the work above and below ground and finish the new pavement, according to the DDC.
Officials joined together with community board members after the ribbon-cutting to spin the iconic cube.
City officials spinning the Alamo sculpture at this morning's ribbon-cutting pic.twitter.com/0TXRxlvjOk— Allegra Hobbs (@AllegraEHobbs) November 16, 2016
The area will eventually include seven renovated mosaic-encrusted lampposts created by artist Jim "Mosiac Man" Power, though the installation of the final five has been delayed, purportedly due to a lack of funds.
Power showed up at Wednesday's ribbon-cutting to air his grievances against the city, claiming officials should have chipped in more money for his hard work.
Jim "Mosaic Man" Power crashes Alamo Plaza unveiling, yells at city officials for lack of funds for mosaic restoration pic.twitter.com/bqOk6dEfwz— Allegra Hobbs (@AllegraEHobbs) November 16, 2016
Councilwoman Rosie Mendez had donated $9,000 to the project, while the Village Alliance had donated a comparable amount. A separate ceremony unveiling the poles will be held in several weeks, according to the Village Alliance.