As you may already have seen (The Wall Street Journal first had the scoop on Jan. 19), the Union Square Partnership's $100-million Vision Plan would result in a 33 percent increase in public space for the Union Square-14th Street neighborhood.
"Initiated as a response to the proposed L train shutdown, this Vision Plan evolved as COVID-19 upended our world, and with it, our relationship with public space," Jennifer Falk, executive director of the nonprofit Union Square Partnership, said in a statement. "More open space, safer pedestrian and cyclist travel, better transit, and more outdoor seating and greenery — all of these changes are called for in this plan and will benefit our community immeasurably as we chart the district’s next chapter."
The Vision Plan proposes five key improvements:
- Transform 14th Street into a world-class boulevard and transitway.
- Convert Union Square West into a seamless pedestrian plaza by extending the park all the way to the surrounding buildings.
- Create an expansive new open space at the park’s southeast corner.
- Build a Broadway Gateway at 17th Street as a permanent extension of the park.
- Develop a new Master Plan for Union Square Park.
The Vision Plan, two years in the making, must still undergo an extensive review process by the city and public, as the Journal pointed out.
There is also the question of who will pay for it. Partnership officials said they are prepared to kick in millions of dollars through fundraising and a possible bond issue but added that it will be up to the city to fund a significant share and largely handle the construction.Partnership officials also noted that the project’s estimated $100 million cost will cover not just expansion of the park's footprint, but also other upgrades and improvements, including construction of a new accessible subway entrance with elevator and escalator.