By Maria Rocha-Buschel
The Flatiron pedestrian plazas and Worth Square (just north of the plazas) will be redeveloped, The Flatiron Partnership and New York City Department of Transportation have announced, and the city will be seeking input from the community at a public workshop on November 10.
Flatiron Partnership Executive Director Jennifer Brown said that development of the plazas has been theoretical for a while, but earlier this year there was enough funding through the city to officially start the design process and consider options for more permanent fixtures for the spaces.
Brown said that the plazas, which stretch along Broadway from East 21st to 23rd Street and north of 23rd Street between Broadway and Fifth Avenue adjacent to Madison Square Park, have been the way they are since 2008 using temporary materials like the epoxy gravel surface that is starting to wear out and the temporary granite blocks that protect the spaces from street traffic. The workshop, which will be held in the Porcelanosa building at 202 Fifth Avenue from 6 to 8:30 p.m., is geared towards getting input from the public about different design elements.
“We hope we get attendees that live and work in the neighborhood, and there are a lot of the workers come to eat lunch so we really hope it’s a combination of the people who are in the neighborhood,” she said. “The workshop is really an open slate for people to come talk about what they would like to see in the spaces. It’s really a visioning workshop.”
The workshop will include presentations from city agencies about the current conditions in the plazas and while there are no set plans yet, Brown said that some possibilities include upgrading the surface to long-lasting, enduring materials and adding in permanent plantings as well as permanent seating.
DOT manages the reclaimed roadbed spaces between East 21st and 24th Streets, but Worth Square to the north is managed by the Parks Department, so the Madison Square Park Conservancy will also be involved in the development of that space, along with the city agencies and the partnership.
Since no design plans have been finalized yet, there are no specifics on the construction process, but Brown said that the whole project is expected to take about four years, with construction starting in 2017 and finishing in 2019. Construction will be phased and work will most likely only be done on one plaza at a time.
“There are still a lot of things to mitigate in the area, like the number of subway stations and the traffic moving through, so that all factors into the process,” she said.
That the workshop will be held in the new Porcelanosa building, Brown said is especially serendipitous.
“The building overlooks Worth Square,” Brown said, “so it’s great to see the spaces as you’re talking about them and can literally see them right out the window.”