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Empty Public Arcades in Lower Manhattan Could Become Retail

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The de Blasio administration needs City Council approval to move forward

A series of buildings on Water Street in Lower Manhattan may see their ground floor spaces being transformed into retail facilities, the New York Times reports. The de Blasio administration wants to give the go ahead to 17 building owners on the street to convert their ground floor spaces into retail.

These ground floor spaces are notable for their open air arcades. They were built between the 1960s and the 1980s to allow for covered pedestrian walkways. In exchange developers could build more office space on top.

The arcades today are instead used as smoking lounges and some in cases cafes, but for the most part are avoided by pedestrians, according to the Times, and don't serve the purpose they were created for.

However the proposal requires a zoning text amendment, and needs the approval of the City Council to move forward. The local community board has already approved the project.

Together the public arcades and plazas on the street could create an additional 2.5 million square feet of space, but in order to convert the arcades, a developer will have also to spruce up the plaza by adding trees or seats.