Meatpacking District’s plazas get a major makeover | East Villager & Lower East Sider

Meatpacking District’s plazas get a major makeover

The Meatpacking District’s new plaza areas feature tables, chairs and plantings. Photo by Tequila Minsky


Last week, the Department of Transportation and the Meatpacking Improvement Association unveiled seven new public pedestrian spaces in the Meatpacking District.

Nearly 20,000 square feet of public space has been transformed into engaging communal areas where people can sit, eat and interact at the center of “Meatpacking.”

A ribbon-cutting was held last Wed., March 27, in Gansevoort Plaza.

The seven redesigned plazas feature plantings and furnishings selected by Ken Smith Landscape Architects.

The redesign, developed through a community-driven process working closely with Community Board 2, is sleek, minimal and is intended to complement the district’s existing aesthetics.

“The Meatpacking District is evolving and over the last several years there’s been an incredible transformation,” said Paul Pariser, president of M.P.I.A. and founder of Taconic Investment Partners, a developer with several properties in the district. “From the High Line to the Ninth Ave. plazas, it’s a beautiful place to spend time. And with the opening of the Whitney Museum in a few years, the district is changing and its future is bright,” Pariser said.

The corridor of Ninth Ave. stretching from Gansevoort St. at the south to 14th St. at the north is home to some of New York’s hottest restaurants, nightclubs, boutiques, creative industry business headquarters and cultural destinations.

“The redesign provides more attractive and more usable outdoor space for people to enjoy the district, patronize area businesses and experience the Meatpacking District in new ways,” said Lauren Danziger, M.P.I.A. executive director. “The newly redesigned and clearly delineated plazas, with customized concrete traffic bollards of uniform appearance, create a streamlined traffic pattern while maintaining a comfortable walking experience.”

At the March 27 ribbon-cutting for the Meatpacking District’s new plaza areas and furnishings, standing, from left, Ed Janoff of the Department of Transportation; Elizabeth Asawa and Ken Smith of Ken Smith Landscape Architects; Meredith Nowikowski of the Meatpacking Improvement Association; David Lemmond from The Standard, New York hotel; Gary Kline of Highline Stages; Brad Hoylman, chairperson of Community Board 2; Andy Wiley-Schwartz of D.O.T.; Emil Lissauer from the Mayor’s Office of Street Activity and Permits; Cliff Meilman of Meilman Family Real Estate; Andrew Rosen of Theory; Daryl Romanoff of Romanoff Equities; and Stuart Romanoff from Cushman & Wakefield; crouching, from left, Colleen Wenke of Taconic Investment Partners; Cristin Burtis, SAPO; and Lauren Danziger, M.P.I.A. executive director.

M.P.I.A. has taken on the responsibility of the ongoing beautification and stewardship of the public spaces, ensuring that the plantings remain green, watered and pruned, and that the plazas are free of litter and graffiti. M.P.I.A. has hired local service organization ACE for sanitation services, and Bulfamante & Sons for landscape maintenance of the new plantings.

“The M.P.I.A. is committed to making the district’s public space as engaging and visitor friendly as possible,” Danziger said. “We hope our plazas will be a host to people taking a rest between eating, shopping and walking through the area, and will also welcome community events like greenmarkets, festivals and fundraisers, as well as marketing and branding activities.”

The Department of Transportation partnered in the project with M.P.I.A.

“This public space redesign at Gansevoort Plaza is the product of a close, collaborative process between the community and the city, and D.O.T. is excited that this work with M.P.I.A. has brought these place-making improvements to the area,” said Andrew Wiley-Schwartz, assistant Transportation commissioner. “The safety benefits and design enhancements improve on what was already a vibrant and growing destination.”

At the district’s south end, Gansevoort Plaza provides nearly 8,000 square feet of open space where the new furnishings provide the opportunity to sit and appreciate the landmarked district and the scene. In addition, 13th St. has been reopened to through traffic traveling west across Ninth Ave. This change was an important concern of local businesses since the district’s previous, temporary street plan had closed off this option to drivers by installing a plaza spanning the intersection. Now this plaza has been broken into two distinct spaces, which along with the other five plaza spaces, have been improved with plantings and furnishings, including chairs, tables and umbrellas.

M.P.I.A. is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit business association whose membership includes both tenants and property owners. The organization’s members have made significant contributions to the beautification and revitalization of the Ninth Ave. plazas. To date, sponsors of the plaza furnishings include Theory, Sephora, Meilman Family Real Estate, Arhaus, Dos Caminos, Bill’s Bar and Burger, Whole Foods and Soho House. Many area businesses and leaders, including those mentioned above, have contributed time and resources enabling M.P.I.A. to provide year-round maintenance of the plazas and to contribute to the community at large.