Commissioner Feniosky Peña-Mora of the New York City Department of Design and Construction (DDC), Commissioner Polly Trottenberg of the NYC Department of Transportation (DOT), Manhattan Borough Commissioner Bill Castro, of the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation (Parks), Deputy Manhattan Borough President, Matthew Washington, Councilmember Rosie Mendez, Senator Brad Hoylman, Assemblymember Deborah Glick and other community officials joined today at the new Alamo Plaza in the East Village to celebrate the completion of a community enhancement project that created two new pedestrian plazas and expanded and renovated two others, bringing 42,000 square feet of new pedestrian space to the neighborhood. The $21 million project was managed by the DDC for DOT and Parks.
The project also introduces larger sidewalks; 16,000-square-feet of planting areas with new trees and automated in-ground irrigation systems; 6,700-square-feet of permeable pavement and 2,100-square-feet of new curbside rain gardens for improved drainage and stormwater management; and over 100 new bike racks.
Also included was a full $180,000 renovation of The Alamo, the popular cube-shaped sculpture now in Alamo Plaza which is best known for its ability to spin on its axis. The sculpture was removed for construction in November 2014 and returned to its home, fully restored and resurfaced, on November 1 after a two-year absence.
“I am thrilled the Cube is back at Alamo Square and that we are celebrating upgrades to another pedestrian plaza in our city,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “Marking the heart of the East Village, Astor Place and this iconic artwork stand as a crossroads for thousands of New Yorkers.”
“Expanded sidewalks and plazas reclaim valuable street space for people, making the neighborhood more inviting and the sidewalks less congested,” said DDC Commissioner Feniosky Peña-Mora. “We are very pleased to work with our partners to beautify this area, add amenities, and more efficiently manage traffic, and look forward to additional street reclamation projects throughout the City.”
“This space means a lot to me -- fresh out of college, I once sold used books under the Astor Place cube,” said DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. “The redesign of Astor Place brings us yet another beautiful public space that New York City has wrestled back from the automobile. We have now made the plaza space more welcoming for pedestrians and we have brought back distinctive elements – like the iconic cube -- that have long made this such a special gathering place and gateway to the East Village.”
“The reconstruction of Astor Place – and the reinstallation of the East Village’s beloved Alamo – provides a terrific example of how well-designed public space can create a more unified, better-functioning public sphere. Fluid, attractive, and walkable spaces like Alamo Plaza are crucial as we work together to create a greener, healthier New York City,” said NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver.
“DEP is proud to have partnered with DDC to provide this neighborhood with smart stormwater management systems, such as permeable pavers and curbside rain gardens, that will improve the health of the East River,” said DEP Acting Commissioner Vincent Sapienza. “We also made critical upgrades to the drinking water distribution system to ensure that East Village residents have a reliable supply of high-quality drinking water for decades to come.”
“With 42,000 square feet of new pedestrian and green space, the new Alamo Plaza will provide residents and visitors alike with a tranquil oasis in the heart of the busy East Village community,” said State Senator Brad Hoylman. “The plaza, along with the long-awaited return of the iconic The Alamo cube, is an important step in New York City’s growing commitment to a more sustainable and livable city. I’m grateful to Mayor de Blasio, Parks Commissioner Silver, Department of Transportation Commissioner Trottenberg, as well as Council Member Rosie Mendez and CB3 for this welcome and much needed addition to the neighborhood.”
“The redesign of this plaza is a great addition to public open space in the East Village. Our neighbors will enjoy the plaza, benches and public art that further beautifies the community which they love. I commend the New York City Department of Design and Construction on their work on this plaza and am happy to see public amenities built in our City,” said Assembly member Deborah J. Glick.
“The Alamo or Astor Place Cube, as it is commonly referred to, is a cherished community landmark for neighborhood residents and many New Yorkers. The Department of Design and Construction, along with multiple city agencies have worked tirelessly in the Astor Place reconstruction and to make the area a vibrant open space. I thank all of the city agencies and the Village Alliance, the local Business Improvement District, for renovating and returning the Cube to its rightful place, as well as committing to bringing back the beautiful Jim Powers’ Mosaics,” said Councilwoman Rosie Mendez, District 2.
“The new Astor Place — the plazas, park, and traffic redesign – represent years of work with Community Boards 2 and 3, many public meetings for community visioning, and work by community partners,” said Community Board 3 District Manager Susan Stetzer. “We love our new public space. It is open and welcoming with well-planned seating, tables, lots of plants and greenery. It is a place to take a break, to eat, to celebrate our community.
“The return of Tony Rosenthal’s iconic Alamo sculpture is the culmination of the neighborhood’s incredible transformation,” said William Kelley, Executive Director of the Village Alliance BID, the City’s maintenance partner for Astor Place. “Our residents, businesses and students welcome the opportunity to enjoy this much-needed public gathering space that will become the heart and hub of the local community.”
“These new pedestrian plazas are already making a difference in the life of our neighborhood, and we thank the many city workers who have contributed to the realization of this plan,” said William S. Mea, Acting President of the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. “The Cooper Union hosts many public events and exhibitions and we are delighted to have outdoor spaces that invite visitors to linger and even engage in our offerings.”
The first new pedestrian plaza in the area, Alamo Plaza, was created when Astor Place from Lafayette Street to Cooper Square was closed to traffic, reconstructed as a raised pedestrian area, and then merged with adjacent expanded sidewalk areas. A second new Village Plaza was created to the south, on the west side of Third Avenue between East 5th and East 6th Streets, when the street Cooper Square was narrowed and shortened by one block to end at Third Avenue and East 6th Street.
Across East 8th Street to the north of Alamo Plaza, the existing Subway Plaza has been expanded and renovated with new planting areas, while to the south of Cooper Union between East 6th and East 7th Streets, Peter Cooper Triangle has also been renovated and expanded.
Infrastructure improvements as part of the project included complete street reconstructions with new curbs and sidewalks; new traffic and street light poles; new benches and water fountains; and new water mains, sewers, catch basins, and fire hydrants. Additional electrical sources accessible from the street have also been added to accommodate future public events in the area.
In a separate project that was completed in 2013, extensive water supply work was also completed in a project managed by DDC for the DEP in the area of Village Plaza, where a distribution shaft is located at the terminus of the City’s Third Water Tunnel.