I am a 30 year plus resident of Lower Manhattan (3 Hanover Square) and I understand that your vote on the Water Street arcades and plazas will be the most important, and I strongly support the Downtown Alliance’s Water Street zoning text amendment.
I am also in the planning profession, and I have not read in any of the local media what I consider the most compelling reason to make these changes. People avoid Water Street because it lacks the most important things about a street: a sense of enclosure, and retail life. Think of Broadway by comparison, it has this sense of enclosure and it has the retail activity. The two aspects go together: if there is no enclosure, there can be no retail because no one can see the retail.
Some of the opposition say that the building owners are being over-compensated as an incentive to repair the plazas and arcades. Another way to say this is, it is a powerful incentive. I don’t think we should wait for years while each building decides to fix their plazas and arcades; that won’t fix the whole street. We need a powerful incentive.
Think about when you walk in the Financial District: do you walk on Water Street? If you do, do you see any other people? Most of us walk on Broadway, on Pearl Street, on Nassau Street, on ANY street but Water Street. Urban design matters, it failed on Water Street and we can fix it. Please support this unique opportunity to fix Water Street.