What’s so hard about building a piazza? That’s the general thinking of the creative class, and tired of waiting for non-creative City and real estate development leaders to probably never invest in such a thing, the local creatives in Manhattan decided to do it themselves.
How did this Gansevoort Project (the name of the neighborhood, aka the Meatpacking District) start? A neighborhood preservationist and restauranteur got together with their fellow business owners and residents, brought in a facilitator, Project for Public Spaces, and planned around the common vision of “If you plan a city for cars and traffic you get cars and traffic. If you plan for people and places, you get people and places.” You can track their findings here.
There is indeed hope, what with the Dept. of Transportation commissioner (Iris Weinshall) committing to “create public plazas in neighborhoods in all five boroughs,”… “These open spaces will make walking more enjoyable, preserve neighborhood character, and can serve as the heart of a neighborhood through which all activity can pulse.” Transportation officials said nothing of the sort ten short years ago, even five.
The group is now discussing implementation with city officials. The best news is that the “organizers stressed that the community, not the local politicians, would guide the decision-making process.” Now that’s what a beta community is all about.