Community and Open Space
As a part of its commitments to the community, NYU is enhancing and supporting spaces for community members. Completed enhanced spaces include the Bleecker Street Landscape, the Mercer-Houston Dog Run Relocation, and Fiorello LaGuardia Park. Future commitments include the opening of a Community Facility Space and Greene Street Play Garden as part of the 181 Mercer project along with the opportunity for the NYC School Construction Authority to build a public school on the superblocks. Read about the progress of individual commitments in this category below.
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181 Mercer Community Facility
Overview: NYU will make approximately 7,500 gross square feet of community facility space on the ground floor level of 181 Mercer Street accessible to pedestrians from the Greene Street Walk, a landscaped pedestrian way to be created as part of the new building. For further reference, please review the NYU Letter to Council Member Margaret Chin from July 2012 and the Restrictive Declaration 6.1(b), p. 80.
Current Status: Construction of 181 Mercer Street is underway and 7,500 gross square feet of community facility space has been factored into the design and programming of the building.
181 Mercer North (Bleecker Street) Entry
Overview: The north entry of 181 Mercer Street along Bleecker Street will incorporate a small planting area on property under the jurisdiction of the NYC Department of Transportationand the NYC Department of Parks. The design of the north entry landscape will be subject to review and approval by the NYC Public Design Commission. NYU will collaborate with the Department of Transportation, the Department of Parks, and the Public Design Commission to create a design for this area. For further reference, please review Restrictive DeclarationSection 6(a) (b)(c ).
Current Status: The north entry design has been approved by the NYC Public Design Commission and will be constructed as part of the 181 Mercer Street project.
Financial Contribution for Playground Enhancements
Overview: NYU will make a contribution of $350,000 (adjusted for inflation) to NYC Department of Parks and Recreation for improvements at the Mercer Playground. NYU will collaborate with the Department of Parks and Recreation on this project. Please refer to the Restrictive Declaration section 4.4(f)(i),page 60 for further reference.
Current Status: Construction is now complete and the space is open and available to the public. Due to weather conditions, the final "color seal" will be applied to the paving in spring 2022 once temperatures are steadily above 50 degrees
Bleecker Street Landscape
Overview: NYU worked with the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation and NYC Department of Transportation to improve the planting areas on Bleecker Street between Mercer Street and LaGuardia Place. Improvements include new plantings to add seasonal interest and variety to the understory, sidewalk repaving, new fencing on the planting bed perimeter, and tree pruning and fertilizing. The Department of Parks and Recreation and the Department of Transportation took the lead in designing the landscape improvements, and Community Board 2 and the Open Space Oversight Organization were consulted prior to and during review and approval on October 5, 2015 by the Public Design Commission. For further reference, please review NYU’s presentation to the Public Design Commission, the Letter from NYU to Council Member Margaret Chin, and the Restrictive Declaration section 6.1, page 79.
Current Status: Construction of the Bleecker Street Landscape is complete and the space is open and available to the public. View the presentation given by the Department of Transportation the Public Design Commission for the full design.
Greene Street Playgarden
Overview: NYU will construct a .25-acre playgarden on the Silver Towers block, just a few feet north of the Mercer Houston Street Dog Run Association’s dog run. At almost 11,000 square feet, this new playgarden will contain a variety of play equipment, landscaping, and seating, including the incorporation of the existing circular concrete seating, whichis a landmark feature on the Silver Towers site. The Landmark Preservation Commission approved the playgarden location and concept in July 2011. Prior to construction of the playgarden, the final design will require additional review and approval by Landmarks. For further reference, please review the Restrictive Declaration section 4.3 (d)(i)(B), page 50.
Current Status: The NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission has approved the Greene Street Playgarden design. The Playgarden will be constructed as part of the 181 Mercer Street project.
Greene Street Walk
Overview: The Greene Street Walk will run along the west side of the 181 Mercer Street at ground level, from West Houston Street to Bleecker Street, on property owned by NYU which is outside the boundary of the Silver Towers landmark site. Greene Street Walk isintended as a physical and visual link connecting Soho to Greenwich Village and NYU. The facade treatment and building uses of 181 Mercer Street 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 this pedestrian passageway. 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. For further reference, please review Restrictive Declaration section 6.1, page 79.
Current Status: The design of the Greene Street Walk is complete and will be constructed as part of the 181 Mercer Street project.
Fiorello LaGuardia Park
Overview: Under the direction of the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation, the Department of Transportation, and the Open Space Oversight Organization (OSOO), NYU produced an upgrade plan for Fiorello LaGuardia Park, along LaGuardia Place between Bleecker Street and West 3rd Street. Design concepts were vetted with Community Board 2, the OSOO, at OSOO-led stakeholder meetings, and at a public forum, with ultimate design approval given by the Public Design Commission on October 5, 2015. Upgrades include new paving and widened pathways, the creation of a reading circle around the LaGuardia statue, tree pruning, removing dead or diseased trees and replanting with small ornamental trees, and installing seating. For further reference, review the Restrictive Declaration section 6.1, page 79.
Current Status: Construction of Fiorello LaGuardia Park is complete, the space is open and available to the public. View the presentation given by the Department of Transportation the Public Design Commission for the full design.
Minority Women and Local Business Enterprises Plan
Overview: As part of its commitments to the City Council during land use approvals for the project, NYU agreed to implement a minority, women, and local business enterprise (MWLBE) Plan prior to the start of project construction.
Current Status: NYU’s MWLBE Plan for 181 Mercer Street is being implemented. Read more about the MWLBE Plan.
Mercer-Houston Dog Run Relocation
Overview: NYU relocated the Mercer-Houston Street Dog Run, formerly along the west side of Mercer Street near Houston Street, to a new site beside Silver Towers I (110 Bleecker Street) just west of 181 Mercer Street. NYU and the Mercer-Houston Dog Run Association collaborated on a design that includes a water feature and climbing boulders, as well as seating and a small storage shed, while maintaining the integrity of the landmarked space. NYU received approval from the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) for the dog run relocation in 2011 as part of a larger master plan for the SilverTowers site, and LPC staff approval on the dog run design details in early 2015. For further reference, please review Restrictive Declaration section 6.1, page 79.
Current Status: The dog run is complete. For more information about the dog run and membership options, visit mercerhoustondogrun.org. Faculty Housing residents are eligible for membership reimbursement. If interested, residents should visit the management office at 2 Washington Square.
Space for a Public School
Overview: The NYC School Construction Authority (SCA) has the option to build a school which would be incorporated into the Bleecker Building. The SCA must provide NYU with notice of intent to build a school. In October 2014, at the request of Council Member Chin, NYU extended the SCA notice deadline from December 31, 2014 to December 31, 2018. In October 2018, at the request of local elected officials, NYU extended the SCA notice deadline from December 31, 2018 to December 31, 2021. In November 2021, the SCA notified NYU of its intention to exercise its option to build a public school. NYU has provided a further extension to give the SCA until December 31, 2023 to decide whether to proceed with the design process for the public school and to commence construction by December 31, 2025. Should a public school be earmarked for the site, NYU will collaborate with the Department of City Planning and the School Construction Authority on this project. For further reference, please review Restrictive Declaration sec6.2(b), page 83.
Current Status: SCA has accepted the most recent extension.
Sasaki Garden Site Improvements
Overview: NYU will make the Sasaki Garden more accessible to the public and increase public awareness of the Garden by posting wayfinding signage. Collaborators for this project include the Superblock Stewardship Advisory Committee and University administration. This commitment was made by NYU to Council Member Chin in July 2012. For further reference, please refer to the NYU Letter to Council Member Margaret Chin from July 2012.
Current Status: 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 tothe Sasaki Garden. Rolling gates, which will be left open during garden hours, were installedat the entry points and a wayfinding signage program was implemented in fall 2018.
Seasonal Playground Associate
Overview: 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. NYU will collaborate with the Department of Parks and Recreation onthis project. For further reference, please review the Restrictive Declaration 4.4(f)(ii), p. 61.
Current Status: This project will be part of the design/construction due diligence process related to LaGuardia building construction, which will not occur until 2022 at the earliest.
Washington Square Village Community Facility Space
Overview: NYU made 6,000 square feet of community facility space available in Washington Square Village 4, which is used for daycare and pre-K programs and managed by Creative Steps/University Settlement. In addition, based on community input andguidance from Council Member Margaret Chin, another 900 square feet of community facility space has been provided in Washington Square Village 3. Visiting Neighbors occupies the space and they provide outreach programs for seniors in Lower Manhattan.For further reference, please view the letter written to Council Member Margaret Chin in July 2012 and Council Member Chin’s letter to the community from May 2013.
Current Status: This project was completed November 2014. The Creative Steps Early Child Care Center is in operation in Washington Square Village 4. Visiting Neighbors is open and serving clients. In addition to these two spaces, meeting and activity space has also been provided for the Washington Square Village Tenants Association and a large ground floor studio has been retrofitted for use as playspace for Washington Square Village resident families.
Mercer Street Plaza Agreement
Overview: Per the ULURP approvals and as memorialized in the Mapping Agreement,which sets out the conditions for the de-mapping of certain City-owned mapped rightsof-way on the periphery of the Core Plan project site, the plaza on the west side of MercerStreet between West 3rd and West 4th Streets (the “CoGen Plaza”) shall be used aspermanent landscaped and publicly accessible open space in perpetuity.
Current Status: The Mapping Agreement has been executed and the right-of-way demapped as a street. NYU owns the CoGen Plaza above and below grade and the plaza willremain landscaped open space in perpetuity.