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Amid Hudson Square Rezoning, Pedestrian Plaza Plans Emerge

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All eyes are on Trinity Church's proposal for a rezoning of Hudson Square, but the powerful landowner isn't the only group trying to change the neighborhood, which sits south of Greenwich Village and west of Soho near the entrance to the Holland Tunnel. A neighborhood BID, Hudson Square Connection, wants to transform the traffic-choked area into a pedestrian haven. Long-term plans include reducing the width of the road on Hudson Street and re-purposing an off-shoot of Sixth Avenue, but currently, the group is focusing on a makeover of Freeman Plaza. Most may know it better as the paved lot just outside the Holland Tunnel entrance.

The group first floated the idea more than two years ago. They want to turn the desolate lot into a tree-lined green space with tables and chairs, inviting people to sit and relax while horns blare and cars battle for the tunnel. Plaza owner Port Authority strongly supports the plans, which are being reviewed by the DOT. "It's not obvious," an official in the group told the Times. "But people sit in the middle of Columbus Circle and like it." A renovation of Freeman Plaza is not included in Trinity's rezoning plan, which aims to bring more residential development to the area.
UPDATE: The Hudson Square Connection sent over some renderings and details about their plan, which they will be officially unveiling tonight. The five-year, $27 million streetscape transformation is broken down into five key areas, none of which are Freeman Plaza. The goals are to improve traffic flow, create green space, and make the area more pedestrian and bike-friendly.

1) The plan calls for Spring Street to be the area's "Main Street," building off the appeal of Spring Street's shops galleries. The street will get special lights and special trees, and ideally, it would connect Soho Square (see point #2), the plaza at the Trump Hotel, a parking-lot-turned-park, and Hudson River Park like "beads on a necklace."

2) Soho Square, a little sliver of space at Sixth Avenue and Spring Street, will be "Hudson Square's front door." New lighting and benches would be installed, and the number of trees would double. The road just west of the square, called "Little Sixth Avenue," would be renovated to be useable by cars and pedestrians, it would have raised crosswalks, and permeable pavement to absorb storm water.

3) Varrick Street, despite its constant state of congestion leading to the Holland Tunnel, will become more pedestrian friendly with custom crosswalks printed with patterns. A parking lane would be removed, and the street would be split down the middle with a planted median. "Vine structures" would line the sidewalk, separating pedestrians and cars while also providing shade and seating.

4) Hudson Street would get wider sidewalks and more green spaces. The number of trees would increase 60 percent, with a double row lining the west side of the street. There will be pocket gardens, "outdoor living rooms" with modular seating, and a buffered bike lane.

5) The final point of the plan focuses on reconfiguring all sidewalk spaces in the neighborhood to have more flexible seating areas and 150 more trees, some of which would be places in "container forests" that could be moved around.

· At Mouth of Holland Tunnel, a Vision for an Unlikely Oasis [NYT]
· Hudson Square Streetscape Plan [official]
· Hudson Square Rezoning coverage [Curbed]