Architects Propose to Reclaim Park Tribeca Lost Nearly a Century Ago
Above: A view from above, illustrating the smaller parks (at street level) located at the corners of the Holland Tunnel Rotary, which would act as gateways to the Lower Plaza, submerged below the existing exit ramps. Below: The Lower Plaza would contain a mix of indoor and outdoor space, adapted to a broad range of uses.
Community Board 1 (CB1) is supporting a plan to create a new park in Tribeca, within the Holland Tunnel Rotary, the six-acre asphalt gyre of exit ramps that connects traffic from New Jersey to Lower Manhattan’s street grid.
The husband-and-wife architecture team of Dasha Khapalova and Peter Ballman are proposing to create a constellation of small, street-level parks at the corners of the complex (bounded by Hudson, Laight, and Varick Street, as well as Ericson Place) which will double as entry points for a new, submerged central plaza. This plaza is anachronously known as St. John’s Park, although it has not been a publicly accessible space since the Holland Tunnel opened, 94 years ago.
The vest-pocket parks at street level would contain, “intimate piazzas, wild gardens, dog parks, and playgrounds,” according to Ms. Khapalova and Mr. Ballman, while also offering staircases, ramps, and elevators connecting the street to a central Lower Park, along with the indoor spaces that would surround it.
The Lower Plaza, 275 feet in diameter and open to the sky, would be planted with native vegetation, which would serve as a bioswale during heavy rain — retaining water and integrating runoff through various water features in the site. The outdoor portion of the park would be designed not only as a place for gathering and relaxation, but also contain playgrounds and play fields, an open-air venue for film and performance, and space for seasonal activities such as farmer’s markets and ice skating.
A view from the corner of Hudson and Laight Streets, showing the corner parks, in relation to the Lower Plaza.
Surrounding this outdoor sward would be 70,000 square feet of interior space (illuminated by skylights from the street-level parks above), with rooms designed to serve variously as movie theaters and auditoriums, restaurants and cafes, yoga studios and bath houses, and educational or childcare facilities.
Ms. Khapalova and Mr. Ballman presented their preliminary plan to CB1’s Waterfront, Parks and Cultural Committee for feedback on December 15. At CB1’s December 22 meeting, the Board enacted a resolution acknowledging that, “most members of the committee were pleased and even excited by this concept that would create more function and beauty in this space,” and concluding that the Board, “applauds, encourages and supports the effort that has been made thus far.”
That noted, the resolution also acknowledged that the plan does not yet have a timeline or a budget, beyond a rough cost estimate of $200 million. But the process of gaining official support from CB1 may be the beginning of a process that could add more than a quarter of a million square feet of new public space to Tribeca.
In Memoriam: Anthony Notaro
(1951 – 2020)
A Leader Who Presided Over Transformational Times in Lower Manhattan Passes from the Scene
Anthony Notaro, a Lower Manhattan community leader for decades and chair of Community Board 1 (CB1) from 2016 to 2020, died on December 30, after a years-long battle with cancer. He was 69 years old. A resident of Battery Park City since the late 1990s, Mr. Notaro joined CB1 shortly after moving to Lower Manhattan. To read more…
To the editor,
Anthony Notaro was an awesome man. After 9/11, he sought us out at Moran’s restaurant on Washington Street and asked how he could help.
We watched him interact over many years on behalf of the community in a common-sense, practical manner rarely practiced in these parts. He was most compassionate and yet got the job done while listening to all sides.
My wish is that other leaders would take a look at his manner and adopt this posture. NYC desperately needs doers today.
Today I will make a donation in his name to the Bowery Mission.
I will make an effort to relate to folk as he did, an inspiration to us all. He will be missed; he made his mark for all.
To the editor,
Thanks so much for printing this tribute to Anthony.
There was much about him I didn’t know and Anthony and I worked together on CERT since its beginning and worked on the Community Board for years and years. He always kept his eye on the business at hand so I never knew about his many travels or that the both of us did the huge Italian Christmas Eve celebrations.
It’s comforting to know amid all that he suffered in his long battle with cancer that he also had a loving wife and family around him. R.I.P Anthony.
You led a good life and you did good for so many others.
Jean Bergantini Grillo, former Team Chief, Tribeca CERT
Public Member CB 1
Eyes to the Sky
January 4 – 17, 2021
Early nightfall and late sunup beckon to stargazers before days lengthen
The last of the longest nights of the year are bookended by planet Venus taking final bows in early morning twilight in the southeast and planets Jupiter and Saturn poised at the edge of the southwest skyline in afternoon dusk. The latest sunrises of the year – 7:20am through January 10 – and early sunsets, around 4:40pm, motivate this stargazer to greet starry skies, mostly in short jaunts or from a window or balcony, during morning darkness and half-light, 6am to 6:50am, and in the afternoon from just after 5pm – 5:40. To read more…
Community Board meetings and other events this week
Tuesday January 5
Transportation & Street Activity Permits Committee
For three generations, from Warsaw to Vilna to Shanghai to New York, the Mlotek family has played a major role preserving Yiddish culture and heritage. Join Zalmen Mlotek, Artistic Director of the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene and Musical Director of Fiddler on the Roof in Yiddish, for a conversation about his family legacy and the “transforming moments” he experienced growing up as the child of a Holocaust survivor. $10
Did you know that the dumpling, a world-renowned symbol of Chinese cuisine, did not originate in China? On Thursday, January 7, cultural historian Miranda Brown will take us all the way back to the Tang Dynasty (618 to 907 AD) to trace the dumpling’s roots deep into Central Asia. It’s a journey that will take us through foreign dynasties, epic Mongol expansion, and the family recipes of a Ming dynasty Shanghai noble, to understand the how the ubiquitous “Chinese” staple came to be. Free
1914 – The Ford Motor Company announces an eight-hour workday
and minimum daily wage of $5
066 – Edward the Confessor dies childless, sparking a succession crisis that will eventually lead to the Norman conquest of England.
1757 – Louis XV of France survives an assassination attempt by Robert-François Damiens, the last person to be executed in France by drawing and quartering, the traditional and gruesome form of capital punishment used for regicides.
1781 – American Revolutionary War: Richmond, Virginia, is burned by British naval forces led by Benedict Arnold.
1875 – The Palais Garnier, one of the most famous opera houses in the world, is inaugurated in Paris.
1882 – Charles J. Guiteau is found guilty of assassinating US President James A. Garfield, and is sentenced to death by hanging.
1895 – Dreyfus affair: French army officer Alfred Dreyfus is stripped of his rank and sentenced to life imprisonment on Devil’s Island.
1914 – The Ford Motor Company announces an eight-hour workday and minimum daily wage of $5
1933 – Construction of the Golden Gate Bridge begins in San Francisco Bay.
1968 – Alexander Dubček comes to power; “Prague Spring” begins in Czechoslovakia.
1679 – Pietro Filippo Scarlatti, Italian organist and composer (d. 1750)
1876 – Konrad Adenauer, German lawyer and politician, Chancellor of West Germany (d. 1967)
1926 – W. D. Snodgrass, American poet (d. 2009)
1931 – Alvin Ailey, American dancer and choreographer, founded the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (d. 1989)
1932 – Umberto Eco, Italian novelist, literary critic, and philosopher (d. 2016)
1946 – Diane Keaton, American actress, director
1527 – Felix Manz, Swiss martyr (b. 1498)
1589 – Catherine de’ Medici, queen of Henry II of France (b. 1519)
1625 – Simon Marius, German astronomer (b. 1573)
1922 – Ernest Shackleton, Anglo-Irish sailor and explorer (b. 1874)
1933 – Calvin Coolidge, 30th President of the United States (b. 1872)
1942 – Tina Modotti, Italian photographer, model, actress, and activist (b. 1896)
1943 – George Washington Carver, American botanist, educator, and inventor (b. 1864)
1998 – Sonny Bono, singer-songwriter and politician (b. 1935)
The Not-So-Okay Corral
DOT Overrules Community Concerns about Delivery Bike Facility in Tribeca
The City’s Department of Transportation has ignored calls from Community Board 1 to address concerns of Tribeca residents before installing a cargo bike corral on Warren Street (between West and Greenwich Streets), to facilitate the use of powered bicycles when making grocery deliveries. To read more…
An End to Screen Time
City Announces Public School Admissions Changes with Significant Impact for Lower Manhattan
On December 18, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza announced that they were provisionally barring public middle schools (for at least one year, and possibly longer) from evaluating applicants based on academic criteria such as test scores, report-card grades, and attendance records, while permanently forbidding public high schools from giving admissions preference to students who reside with the same district as those schools.
Non-Profit Outlines Plan for ‘Safe Haven’ Shelter on Washington Street
The administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio plans to create a homeless shelter at a historic building on Washington Street, in the Greenwich South neighborhood of Lower Manhattan, in partnership with a highly regarded non-profit, the Center for Urban Community Services.
“This facility will not for warehousing,” said CUCS’s chief operating officer, Douglas James. “We aim to move people from the streets to permanent housing.”
Niou Joins Lawmakers Calling for Rollback of NYPD Unit
State Assembly member Yuh-Line Niou has joined a coalition of elected officials calling on the New York Police Department (NYPD) to investigate and possibly disband the troubled Vice Unit, which has been plagued by allegations of bias and corruption in recent years. To read more…