Public Plaza Redo Planned for Cliff Street Tower

Left: The public plaza in front of 15 Cliff Street was provided in 2000 by the building's developers in exchange for creating a tower taller than zoning would normally allow. Right: The plan for the plaza, presented as a slide to Community Board 1. Out of frame is Cliff Street at the bottom and the tower at the top. Photos: Plaza and tower (left): Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib; Diagram: Carmel Partners via Tribeca Trib

Jul. 23, 2015

The public plaza in front of 15 Cliff Street, a 31-story residential tower between Fulton and John Streets, is getting a facelift.

The new owners of the building, the California-based Carmel Partners, are redesigning the 3,000-square-foot plaza as part of planned renovations to their property, Paul Proulx, the owners' attorney, told Community Board 1’s Seaport/Civic Center Committee on Tuesday.

The current plaza includes a 170-square-foot café with seating, two large planters in the center, more planters along the edge and scallop-shaped seating. What will replace it, architect Giovanni Diaz told the committee, will be a “greener, softer space” with double the number of planting areas. The beds will also be encircled by “comfortable” wood slab seating instead of the existing concrete, he said.

“Because of the shape, you were forced to sit in a certain area,” Diaz said. “This provides a little more lounging opportunity, to be able to sit in an area where you feel like you are nestled within the planting.”

Plants will also grow up the walls of the plaza, Diaz said, allowing visitors to be “enveloped by green.”

The plaza will get new lighting and trash receptacles, he added.

The café will be a bit smaller, giving more space to the plaza, according to Diaz. The operator of the cafe is yet to be determined.

Some committee members expressed concerns that most of the seating would be in the café area, discouraging pedestrians from sitting in the space unless they buy something from the eatery. Diaz disagreed, noting that seating will be available as close to the sidewalk as possible. However, he said, the city requests that at least 50 percent of the space be completely open, restricting where seats can be placed.

The plaza redesign is not subject to community board review, but in a resolution, the committee supported "the concept" of the plans as presented at the meeting. However, the café within the plaza does fall under the board's purview. Proulx told the committee that CB1 will receive the "application package" for the café once it is filed with the City Planning Commission, and the board will have 30 days to sign off on it.