Kips Bay Public Plaza Hits Snag

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A neighboring shopping center has changed its tune and refuses to support the public plaza The residents of Kip's Bay have been trying for years to get a little space and sunshine in their community. The Kips Bay Neighborhood Association (KPNA) was formed in 2010 to put plans into motion for a pedestrian plaza on 30th Street and 2nd Avenue, where a side street delivery service area is right now. But plans for the community plaza may be put on hold indefinitely because the neighboring shopping center, owned by J.D. Carlisle Real Estate, his withdrawn support for the project. The Department of Transportation (DOT) has stated that they will not move forward with the project without Carlisle's support. Dennis Stark, a member of the community and of the KBNA said that the DOT probably "doesn't want to ruffle any feathers." DOT refused to comment on the subject. The real estate group sent a letter to DOT last month stating, "it is our position that the public plaza will cause an unwarranted strain on the businesses in our development. Furthermore, we lack any confidence in the sponsoring entity's ability to effectively raise the required funds or the ability to professionally manage a large public plaza." "We are pretty confused because Carlisle Group has supported the proposal in the past. We were under the impression that they'd be supportive," said Erica Rand Silverman, a member of the Kips Bay Neighborhood Association. "I hope something is done to beautify this space, but we don't know yet what it will be." Silverman said that although the DOT does not need the approval of Carlisle to move forward with the project, the real estate group had been helping to fund the project. Without their financial support, said Silverman, the community is looking to elected officials for help. "The neighbors don't benefit by having this access road on 2nd Avenue and it just takes up space," said Dennis Stark. "Also we don't really have anything to attract people to our neighborhood." The pushback from Carlisle supposedly started several months ago, when a brand-new Fairway Market opened in the shopping area, according to Stark. The large supermarket led the charge against the public plaza, protesting the lack of a delivery area in the pedestrian plaza plan. But the trouble had not begun with the opening of Fairway. For a long time, said Stark, neighbors pushed back against having this public space built, because it would take away parking. Residents of Kip's Bay Towers, an apartment complex situated near where the plaza would be, have been especially adamant against the public plaza being built. According to Silverman, those residents did not want another public area, because they had their own private garden. Last summer, the community decided to test out the effectiveness of a public plaza by opening a temporary one for residents. There were many logistic problems, including a significant lack of funds to buy tables and chairs, as well as street furniture theft problems. But overall, said Silverman, the community really got involved in the new outdoor space. "The great part was the community involvement," said Silverman. "We had the library and senior centers use the space, various community days where restaurants and businesses came out, a bike riding program came and used the space to give lessons. There were so many people who recently moved here who didn't know there was a library program but happened upon the outdoor space." As of right now, there is no update on the community space.

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