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Open Spaces


Toddler Playground

NYU will construct a .25-acre playground on the Silver Towers block (just a few feet north of the current location of Rocketship Park). At almost 11,000 square feet, this new playground will be nearly four times the size of the existing playarea and will contain a variety of play equipment, landscaping, and seating, including the incorporation of the existing circular concrete seating.

Updated 12/11/15: Planning for the Toddler Playground is currently underway in tandem with the design of 181 Mercer Street (the Coles building) and Greene Street Walk.  

  • Timing: Design and construction of the playground will be completed during construction of the 181 Mercer Street (the Coles building).
  • Collaborators: The Landmark Preservation Commission approved the park location and concept in July 2011. Prior to construction of the playground, the final design will require additional review and approval by Landmarks.
  • Reference: Restrictive Declaration. 6.1, p. 81
  • Rendering: View an image of the rendering here. Prior to construction of the playground, LPC staff must approve final plans. 

LaGuardia Corner Gardens Task Force

Twelve months prior to the construction of the Bleecker Building, the City Planning Commission will convene a Task Force to determine if there is a feasible permanent relocation site for the LaGuardia Corner Gardens within Community Board 2. NYU will be reponsible for the garden's relocation costs.

  • Timing: The Department of City Planning must convene the Task Force 12 months prior to the construction of the Bleecker Building. The Task Force will have 6 months to identify a relocation site.
  • Collaborators: Task Force and representatives of the LaGuardia Corner Gardens must agree on a relocation site.
  • Reference: Restrictive Declaration section 4.4 (a)(i)(A), page 53

LaGuardia Corner Gardens Protection Plan and Fund

If the Department of City Planning does not identify a permanent relocation site for the Garden, NYU and DCP will formulate a Garden Protection Plan. Best practices for avoiding impacts to the Garden during the Bleecker Building's construction may include temporarily relocating the Garden, protecting the space during construction, or temporarily closing it. In all of these instances, NYU would pay for the garden's reconstruction and establish a fund ("Garden Viability Fund") to increase plants' viability post construction.


Mercer-Houston Dog Run Relocation

NYU relocated the dog run managed by the Mercer-Houston Dog Run Association (MHDRA) to the north side of Houston Street west of 181 Mercer Street (the Coles building).

Updated 03/02/16: NYU relocated the dog run managed by the Mercer-Houston Dog Run Association (MHDRA) to the north side of Houston Street west of 181 Mercer Street (the Coles building). For more information about the dog run and membership options, visit mercerhoustondogrun.org.

Updated 02/03/16: Dog run construction nearing completion; opening expected early March 2016.  

Updated 10/20/15: Construction of the new dog run is underway and construction completion is expected in early 2016. The new dog run will include design features for active dog play including a fountain and climbing boulders, as well as seating and a small storage shed.

Updated 8/11/15: After a collaborative design process between MHDRA and the project architects, the Landmarks Preservation Commission approved the new dog run design in May 2015. Construction is scheduled to commence on August 17, 2015.

Updated 12/29/13: NYU and MHDRA have agreed to terms and conditions regarding the new dog run location; a formal agreement will be signed prior to the move.

  • Timing: Construction of the dog run will be complete in early 2016.
  • Collaborators: Mercer Houston Dog Run Association; Landmark Preservation Commission ("LPC")
  • Reference: Restrictive Declaration. 6.1, p. 79
  • Rendering: View an image of the rendering here.

Open Space Oversight Committee

The Open Space Oversight Organization ("OSOO") was established in May 2013. It is a 501 (c ) (3) organization with a mandate to review and comment on the design, maintenance, and operation of the public open spaces on the superblocks, as well as review NYU's compliance with commitments made for these spaces. NYU's maintenance obligations are memorialized in a license agreement with the NYC Dept of Parks.

Updated 12/11/15: When public open spaces are complete, OSOO will monitor NYU's ongoing maintenance of the spaces.

Updated 8/11/15: After input from CB2 and the OSOO, the designs for both the Bleecker and LaGuardia Landscapes are expected to be reviewed by the Public Design Commission in early October.  

Updated 2/25/14: NYU sent an update to the OSOO to follow up from the 12/18/2013 meeting. The minutes of that meeting are also available.

Updated 2/12/14: OSOO members held two stakeholder meetings and one public forum in November 2013. OSOO members also attended a meeting in mid December to present a set of recommendations based upon those meetings to the landscape architects.

  • See the OSOO's recommendations to the landscape architects »

    Updated 9/13/13:
    OSOO members met on September 12, 2013 and established a public input process and timeline for advancing the design process. In addition, OSOO members requested a three-month extension of the proposed September 15, 2013 date to December 15, 2013 to ensure a thorough response to NYU on the open space concepts.

    See the OSOO's Letter to NYU »
    See the OSOO Timeline »

    Updated 9/12/13: Following the June 17th site visit, NYU provided the OSOO with initial design concepts on July 1, 2013 for areas along LaGuardia Place, Bleecker Street, and Mercer Street. The University asked that OSOO members  review the concepts with their constituencies and provide written feedback, based on their constituent interactions, by September 15, 2013 to advance the design process.

    See NYU's letter to the OSOO »

    Updated 6/17/13:
    OSOO members toured the open space areas of the superblock sites with Napach Design Group and Nina Kramer Landscape Architects. Areas for consideration were identified and discussed.
Open Spaces on the Superblocks

Areas under consideration for improvement by the OSOO. Click for a larger image.

Updated 6/5/13: New York State confirmed the OSOO's not-for-profit 501(c)(3) status, and the group held an organizational meeting on May 1, 2013.
 

  • Timing: The Restrictive Dec requirement to create the OSOO by December 2012.
  • Collaborators: Five representatives comprise the OSOO, including one each from the Manhattan Borough President's Office, Council Member Chin's office, Community Board 2, Dept of Parks and Recreation, and NYU.
  • Reference: Restrictive Declaration section 7.3 (a), page 91

Sasaki Garden Site Improvements

NYU will make the Sasaki Garden more accessible to the public and increase public awareness of the Garden by posting wayfinding signage.

Updated 3/4/16: In December 2015, the Superblock Stewardship Advisory Committee issued a report "Embracing a Better Quality of Life: Recommendations from the Superblock Stewardship Advisory Committee" that included a recommendation to improve access to the Sasaki Garden by making the steps less steep.  

Updated 8/11/15: The Superblock Stewardship Advisory Committee will be reviewing and proposing enhancements to the superblocks in the coming year.

Updated 9/15/13: The legal challenge which had put garden access on hold has been remanded to the NYS Dept of Housing and Community Renewal for further decision.


Bleecker Street Landscape

NYU will work with the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation and NYC Department of Transportation to improve the planting areas on Bleecker Street between Mercer and LaGuardia. Improvements include new infill planting to add seasonal interest and variety to the understory, sidewalk re-paving, new fencing on the planting bed perimeter, and tree pruning and fertilizing.

Updated 5/20/16: Construction is complete. This space is now open to the public.

Updated 02/02/16: Construction is underway, expected completion April 2016. Please see the Bleecker Street Landscape construction page for updates.

Updated 11/16/15: Project details for the open space enhancement projects have been set.

Updated 10/20/15: The Public Design Commission approved the design of the Bleecker Street Landscape on October 5, 2015. See PDC presentation given by the Department of Transportation here. The project is currently in pre construction planning and permitting and is expected to commence in the next 6 - 8 weeks.

Updated 9/16/15: After input from the Community Board and OSOO, the design for Bleecker St Seating - now called "Bleecker Landscape" will be reviewed by the Public Design Commission in early October.

Updated 1/15/14: A landscape design for this open space is being shaped in collaboration with DPR and OSOO. OSOO-led stakeholder meetings and one public forum were held in November 2013 to gather community input and feedback on design guidelines.

Updated 7/1/13: Design guidelines and goals being shaped in collaboration with DPR and OSOO


Public Space Maintenance and Operations Agreement

NYU will enter into a maintenance and operations agreement ("license agreement") with the Department of Parks and Recreation for the maintenance and operations obligations for the public open spaces on the superblocks.

Updated 12/11/15: The maintenance agreement has been executed. Please view the executed License Agreement.

Updated 8/11/15: The license agreement is currently being finalized.

Updated 12/29/13: Maintenance agreement on hold pending court challenge.

Updated 7/1/13: Drafting terms are underway between NYU and DPR.


Public Space Maintenance Letter of Credit

NYU will post a letter of credit with the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation to ensure that maintenance funds are available for the public spaces bordering NYU property on the superblocks.

Updated 02/03/16: Letter of Credit currently being prepared.

Updated 9/16/15: Budget being developed for the open spaces. A letter of credit will be posted for more than the approved budget.


Public Space Endowment

NYU will create an endowment fund, managed by the University, for the maintenance of any new privately owned public open spaces constructed on the superblocks.

Updated 03/04/16: The endowment has been established.

Updated 02/03/16: Establishment of endowment in process.  

Updated 9/16/15: In process.  

Updated 12/24/12: Funding has been identified for the endowment.


Landscape Improvements Compliance Report

NYU will hire an architect, landscape architect, or engineer to inspect new landscape improvements and confirm that NYU has met its obligations according to the Restrictive Declaration. The landscape inspector will issue an annual compliance report, submitting a draft report to the OSOO for comment before it is finalized.

Updated 02/03/16: The first compliance report is to be issued by June 2017, approximately one year after public open spaces have been open.

  • Timing: Compliance reports will be issued annually. The first will be issued no later than June 30th of the year following that year in which the first permanent landscape improvement is completed.
  • Collaborators: The report's format must be approved by the director of City Planning. The final report will be submitted to the Chair of the City Planning Commission and the Commissioner of the Department of Parks and Recreation.
  • Reference: Restrictive Declaration section 7.3 (b), page 92.

Willow Oak Tree Maintenance Plan

NYU will establish a Tree Maintenance Plan for the Willow Oak grove adjacent to Bleecker Street on the southern superblock.

Updated 02/02/16: Read the Tree Maintenance Plan.

Update 9/15/2013: The oak grove tree maintenance plan was implemented by NYU in June and July 2013.


LaGuardia Landscape

NYU will work with NYC Department of Parks and Recreation to upgrade the public open space along LaGuardia Place between Bleecker Street and W. 3rd Street. Upgrades include new paving, tree pruning, removing dead or diseased trees and replanting with small ornamental trees, and installing seating in the statue plaza area. The recently completed Adrienne's Garden is not part of the project area.

Updated 5/20/2016: Construction is complete. This space is now open to the public. 

Updated 02/03/16: Landscape is currently under construction, expected completion April 2016. View the project page for more details.

Updated 11/16/2015: Project details for the open space enhancement projects have been set.

Updated 10/20/15: The Public Design Commission approved the design of the LaGuardia Place Landscape on October 5, 2015. See the PDC presentation given by the Department of Transportation here. The project is currently in pre-construction planning and permitting and is expected to commence in the next 6 - 8 weeks.

Updated 8/11/15: After input from the Community Board and OSOO, the design for LaGuardia Temp Playground - now called "LaGuardia Landscape" - will be reviewed by the Public Design Commission in early October.

Updated 1/15/14: A landscape design for this open space is being shaped in collaboration with DPR, DOT, and OSOO. OSOO-led stakeholder meetings and open public forum were held in November 2013 to gather community input and feedback on design guidelines.

Updated 7/1/13: Design guidelines and goals are being shaped in collaboration with DPR and OSOO.

  • Timing: The LaGuardia Place Landscape is expected to be complete in early April.
  • Collaborators: The general scope, design, and oversight of public approvals process will go through the Department of Parks and Recreation, Department of Transportation, Community Board 2, and OSOO, with ultimate review by the Public Design Commission.
  • Downloads: PDC Presentation
  • Reference: Restrictive Declaration. 6.1, p. 79

Financial Contribution for Playground Enhancements

NYU will make a contribution of $350,000 (adjusted for inflation) to NYC Department of Parks and Recreation for improvements at the LMNOP or Washington Square Park playgrounds.


Mature Tree Protection Plans: Mercer Street and LaGuardia Place

To the extent practical, NYU will endeavor to protect mature trees in close proximity to construction. NYU will create Mature Tree Protection Plans for two construction staging areas -- on Mercer Street between Bleecker Street and West 3rd Street, and on LaGuardia Street between Bleecker Street and West 3rd Street.


Seasonal Playground Associate

NYU will fund a seasonal playground associate for Washington Square Park to offset the potential increase in park users during construction of the LaGuardia Building on the north superblock.


181 Mercer Street (the Coles building) North Entry

The north entry of 181 Mercer Street (the Coles building) along Bleecker Street will incorporate a small planting area on property under the jurisdiction of the NYC Dept of Transportation. The design of the north entry landscape will be subject to review by the NYC Public Design Commission.

Updated 2/26/16: Design of the north entry area is currently underway.

  • Timing: Agency review is expected to commence in 2016; with PDC review following.
  • Collaborators: NYC Dept of Tranportation, NYC Dept of Parks, Public Design Commission
  • Reference: Restrictive Declaration Section 6 (a)(b)(c)

Greene Street Walk

The Greene Street Walk will run along the west side of the 181 Mercer Street (the Coles building) at ground level, from W. Houston Street to Bleecker Street. The Walk is intended as a physical and visual link connecting Soho to Greenwich Village, and NYU's Washington Square campus. The facade treatment and building uses of 181 Mercer Street (the Coles building) at the ground level (i.e. building entries, amount of transparency, interior public spaces), along with landscaping and the provision of outdoor seating, will activate and enliven the walk. The intention is to draw people to the building along the Walk, and that it be well utilized for building access and for points north and south.

Update 2/26/16: Design of the Greene Street Walk is currently underway.

  • Timing: Greene Street Walk will be constructed as part of the 181 Mercer Street (the Coles building) project.
  • Collaborators: The Greene Street Walk is on property owned by NYU and outside the boundary of the Silver Towers landmark site.
  • Reference: Restrictive Declaration. 6.1, p. 79

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