Water Street Redesign Plan Is Finally on the Road to Reality

Rendering of the final proposed design for Whtehall Plaza, on Water Street between Whitehall and Broad. The plaza is intersected by Moore Street, which will be made level with the sidewalk but remain open to vehicles. Raised planters will "buffer the interior space from the busy streets around it," said Jackson Wandres, the project's architect. Rendering: NV5

Jul. 19, 2018

Some eight years in the works, the long-delayed streetscape remake for Water Street, from Whitehall to Wall, is moving forward.

Once completed, there will be two plazas, wider sidewalks, new trees and plantings and a unified streetscape along the western side of those five blocks. Since 2013, Water Street has been narrowed by a lane, allowing for an expanded walkway and the creation of temporary plazas at Whitehall and Coenties Slip. Epoxy gravel, colored and striped pavement and plastic traffic bollards serve as placeholders for the $17 million project.

Earlier this month, Jackson Wandres of NV5, the landscape architects on the project, showed Community Board 1’s Land Use, Zoning and Economic Development Committee the final design, now up for approval.

“We’re building out and making permanent the design that exists out there today in the form of [Department of Transportation] temporary materials,” Wandres said.

The design, which largely took shape more than two years ago, grows out of an initiative begun in 2010 by the Downtown Alliance to find ways to enhance the “deadening streetscape experience along the canyon of office towers on Water Street, from Whitehall to Fulton. But the needed $23 million in funding never materialized. Wandres said these five blocks, the southern-most blocks of the street, are the best place to begin.

“Most of Water Street is in shade most of the day but this piece of the street actually gets a fair amount of sun most of the day,” he said, “so we thought let’s focus on that first.”

Wandres said the final plan will be going to the city’s Public Design Commission in two months, the last hurdle before the construction project is put out for bid.