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Manhattan West Will Have Twice As Much Open Space

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Hudson Yards gets the lion's share of attention on the west side, but just one block away, another megaproject is shaping up. It's been nearly a year since we heard anything about Brookfield's under-construction Manhattan West development, but at a public meeting last night, the developer reminded the world that the mixed-use project still exists, outlining plans for the project's public space. Brookfield wants to create nearly twice as much open space than what is required by the city, expanding it from the mandated 1.3 acres (49,400 square feet) to 2.11 acres (91,725 square feet).

The plan, approved by the Manhattan community board 4 land use committee, involves connecting 33rd and 31st Streets by a pedestrian strip through the length of the site and fattening a required plaza above the exposed rail yards between Dyre and Ninth Avenues. The plan would also add a leg of walkway in the southeast corner and a passageway from Dyre Avenue to Tenth Avenue along 31st Street. "We think it makes for a more interesting and desirable place for everyone involved," said Sabrina Kanner, Brookfield's senior vice president of design and construction.

Manhattan West will have two 65-story office towers and a 60-story residential tower a block east of the Hudson Yards project. The path over Dyre Avenue would connect the site with Brookfield's 450 West 33rd Street, a flattened pyramid-like building housing the Associated Press. Brookfield started work last year on a deck over the exposed Amtrak railways but wants to expand the floor over Dyre to 450 West 33rd Street, which the company plans to start renovating this summer. Construction on the towers won't begin until the platform is complete.

CB4 will revisit the proposal as a full board under the condition that several concerns will be addressed. The details on affordable housing at the site made the list, as well as a few concerns about the look of the public spaces. "This is Sixth Avenue," said committee chair Jean-Daniel Noland, making a comparison to "corporate, easily maintained, pedestrian" plazas in Midtown. "Surely we could do better."

Another board member compared the planned space to Bryant Park. Indeed, renderings include a Casablanca-showing movie screen at an area designated as an event space. Another section might be used by a vendor, something the board wants a firm decision on (and made clear that a Papaya Dog probably won't do). The Joie de Vivre statue at Zuccotti Park was thrown into an image as a placeholder for a possible statue. And the space requires a set number of chairs, tables and trees, all of which would be multiplied if the proposal passes.
—Shannon Ayala
· Manhattan West [official]
· All Manhattan West coverage [Curbed]