Landmarks Commission Green-Lights Bike Delivery Kiosk By City Hall Park

Rendering of the proposed kiosk for food delivery workers, as seen from Broadway, facing the back of the structure. Two parking spaces would be eliminated next to the building and bike racks would be added to the sidewalk. Credit: Fantastico

Apr. 18, 2024

The Landmarks Preservation Commission on Tuesday approved the controversial siting of a kiosk for food delivery workers on the sidewalk outside City Hall Park. The structure, providing nearly 50 battery charging stations, plus a repair service and seating, will replace a vacant newsstand on Broadway, between Murray Street and Park Place. 

The location for the hub, a collaboration of the city’s Parks Department and the Workers Justice Project, had been opposed by Community Board 1 and some historic preservation advocates. 

Like the structure that it replaces, the proposed building required Landmarks Commission approval because it is located within the African Burial Ground and the Commons historic districts.

Noting in its resolution that the site was part of an area that “evolved over time to be used for a variety of purposes,” and has included a mix of structures, the commission voted 8-1 to approve the building, with some modifications. The prefabricated kiosk, 21-feet long and 14-feet wide, would be about one-third larger than the one it is replacing.

“We’ve been dreaming of having a dignified space for the last three years, and this deliverista hub has been our dream,” Antonio Solís, a delivery worker and leader of Los Deliveristas Unidos, testified through a translator. “And what a better way to actually start than in a park that’s near City Hall.” 

“This proposed amenity is absolutely essential for the growing number of New Yorkers who use e-micromobility devices,” said Phil Abramson, a director of the Parks Department’s Concessions and Revenue Division, “especially for our city’s hardworking app delivery workers who provide food, groceries and medicine for countless New Yorkers.”

Opponents of the proposal did not dispute the need for a hub, only the location. George Vellonakis, the former Parks Department landscape architect who directed the 1990s major restoration of City Hall Park, called on the commission to reject the proposal for “its inappropriateness to its surroundings. This proposed structure is best suited for Hudson Yards, not City Hall Park,” he said in a statement read by Jeremy Woodoff, a member of the Victorian Society New York, which also opposed the application.

CB1 said it was against the structure in that space because, among other reasons, it would not have direct access to a bike lane and force the workers to ride on the sidewalk or against traffic on Broadway. It also called the building’s “contemporary design” unsuited to the historic-style fencing and subway entrances around the park.

April Bovet Krishnan, board president of the City Hall Park Conservancy, had told CB1 that her group supports the hub but suggested that “a more suitable location be considered,” especially one that would allow for the addition of a restroom.

The current vacant kiosk, which would be demolished, was designed to fit in architecturally with City Hall Park and was approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission. The Historic Districts Council and Community Board 1 called for the adaptive reuse of that building.

“The existing kiosk was designed to harmonize with the surrounding historic context, including the existing fencing, benches, subway stanchions, and other kiosks in and around City Hall Park,” CB1 vice chair Alice Blank testified. “There is absolutely no reason to tear [it] down.”

Most commissioners agreed with Commissioner Frederick Bland, who said, “To me, this is street furniture,” adding that the building is like “a bus shelter, a restaurant, part of the city street system.”

The nearly $1 million cost of constructing the kiosk is being federally funded through Sen. Charles Schumer’s office. Two years ago, Schumer and Mayor Eric Adams stood next to the news kiosk to announce that it would be repurposed as a hub for delivery workers. “We’re going to take underutilized public space on our streets like this newsstand right behind us…and use it for delivery workers,” Schumer said.

That idea was dropped, said April Herms, deputy director of the Workers Justice Project, when it was decided that converting the building would be too expensive. “After exploring those possibilities and realizing that our funds would go further if we did not reuse the hub, we started thinking about what else we could do instead.”

The kiosk is one of two federally funded proposed pilot projects. (The other, the proposed conversion of a newsstand near a 72nd Street subway entrance on Broadway, was rejected by Community Board 7.) Herms said that because it is the first and only delivery worker hub in the country, “we expect to learn as we go.”

“I’m sure we’ll get a lot of feedback from the community, from delivery workers, from the public as this rolls out,” she said, adding,”We can make improvements. The idea is to have it get better over time.” 


Such a shame

It’s such a bloody shame that they can’t make it look like the old one. Why not? — JEAN HOLABIRD

Repurpose, don't redesign

Oh I’m so sad. They’re not planning to keep the historical lovely look of the structure? It’s one thing to repurpose and something else altogether to redesign. If you wouldn’t have approved it to be built right there from scratch you shouldn’t change the design. — M. M. DE VOE