The slow march towards filling in the Greenway Gap on the East Side achieved an important milestone yesterday with a Memorandum of Understanding between the city and the U.N., which will allow cyclists, pedestrians and park-goers in general access to the waterfront between East 38th and East 60th Streets—while at the same time allowing the center of world politics to expand its campus with a new office tower. It is a win-win situation for everybody—especially for the man on the bike who's a terrorist.
Basically the agreement turns over the Robert Moses Playground on East 41st to the United Nations Development Corporation so that a new office building (the size of the Secretariat building) can go there. If the U.N. moves forward with their side of the deal, they'll pay the city $73 million directly to an Eastside Greenway Park Fund. That fund will then help the city pay to increase the Manhattan Greenway by 130,000 square feet, including over a mile of waterfront esplanade and a new Robert Moses park. If it all works out, this would be the first time New Yorkers would have access to that waterfront in more than half a century.
According to the city, the esplanade would be built in three stages:
Infrastructure work on the segment from 38th to 41st Streets, previously occupied by Con Edison, will begin shortly; construction of the segment from 53rd to 60th Streets would likely begin in 2016 and the segment from 41st to 51st Streets likely around 2020. In addition, if the United Nations moves forward, One and Two UN Plaza, in which the City has an economic interest, would be sold or refinanced generating proceeds for the City and the Manhattan Greenway.
Local politicians are lining up to pat themselves on the back about the deal (you can read their many, many canned quotes right here) but cycling advocates are also ecstatic about the news. Paul Steely White, executive director of Transportation Alternatives, says the new addition "will reclaim vital waterfront space for all of the community. We will face tough choices during the coming months and must continue to work very hard to achieve our goals, but together we can accomplish something great for New York City." We. Can't. Wait.