The Real Deal New York

City Planning approves Water Street retail proposal

Plan would turn privately owned public arcades "into an active, lively corridor," Weisbrod says

May 02, 2016 08:14AM

Water Street City Planning NYC

32 Old Slip Plaza in the Financial District (credit: Alliance for Downtown New York) (inset: Carl Weisbrod)

Landlords of 17 properties on Water Street in the Financial District are jumping for joy. A plan that would allow them to turn 380,000 square feet of publicly-owned arcades into income-generating retail space has passed the City Planning Commission, and now heads to the City Council for final approval.

The arcades, which were built between the 1960s and the 1980s with the goal of providing Financial District pedestrians with open-air, covered walkways, “turned out to be a failure,” City Planning chairman Carl Weisbrod said. “This effort is to reclaim and make this into an active, lively corridor.”

The public arcades along Water Street were part of a deal with developers that allowed them to construct more office space than normally allowed under zoning rules, according to the New York Times.

But while the spaces were meant to function as vistas for pedestrians and office workers, they’re often sparsely populated and more often used as outdoor smoking areas, the Times reported.

Weisbrod said the city’s proposal is about “retaining” the Water Street area “as a low-cost office district that will keep businesses in the city and in Lower Manhattan.”

City Planning modified the plan to allow the local community board 45 days to review retail conversion plans for the spaces, with City Council approval the next step.

Bill Rudin, RXR Realty and Brookfield Property Partners are among the 17 landlords. [NYT]Rey Mashayekhi

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