Vacancies on the Upper West Side were high before the pandemic wreaked havoc on NYC, but now due to COVID-19, parts of the city are becoming a ghost town.
As places like Union Square are getting facelifts, City Council District 6 candidate Sara Lind hopes to do the same for Broadway between 59th and 110th Street. Last week, she unveiled a plan that would make the area safe, accessible and more environmentally and pedestrian friendly.
“This is the kind of street I want to be able to walk down and enjoy,” Lind said to the Westside Spirit.
Lind began tinkering with the idea to transform Broadway a couple years ago. Since then she has done surveys, met with residents, activists, business owners and spoken with members of Community Board 7.
With high retail vacancies and a corridor known for cyclists and vehicle injuries, Lind stresses that things must not remain the status quo.
“It became apparent it’s the most dangerous corridor for pedestrians,” she explained. “There’s a lot that needs to be done to change it.”
Her plans include:
* Work with landlords to develop a special arts district along Broadway - anchored by institutions like Lincoln Center, the Beacon and Symphony Space - featuring galleries, arts markets, fashion and performance spaces,
* Advocate for large commercial vacancies to accommodate mixed-use spaces for start-up offices, co-working spaces, artisan and craftsman tables and pop ups similar to DeKalb Market in Brooklyn or a year-round version of the Columbus Circle Holiday Market and
* Protect existing small businesses by providing commercial rent tax relief to retail storefront businesses through the pandemic and streamlining city processes and regulations that make it difficult for small businesses to open and operate, like giving businesses a cure period after inspection failures rather than shutting them down immediately.
Rezone Broadway from 73rd to 110th, as a special mixed-use district to create a major thoroughfare that encourages:
* Arts and theater uses
* Creative light manufacturing like small fashion start-ups that make clothing on site and art production spaces,
* Ground floor office space
* Restaurants and food trucks
* Mini-distribution hubs with hours of operation restrictions to get piles of packages off our sidewalks and idling trucks off our streets and
* Deeply affordable housing, with preference given to seniors and homeless families.
Lind has spoken to the owners of the Beacon and they fully support her plan.
“It will be an incredible opportunity to expand the arts,” Lind said. “It will be a nice asset for the Beacon.”
Safe Streets & Green Space
* Support public greens spaces, pedestrian areas, and art installations to drive foot traffic to our retail corridors,
* Build on the Broadway Malls that run through the center of the street to expand greenery and recreational space
* Provide public seating and spaces for neighbors to enjoy the community
* Establish year round outdoor seating for restaurants, bars and coffee shops,
* Open northbound lanes north of 73rd St. to pedestrians, buses and bikes
* Build dedicated bus and bike lanes and incorporate models that allow for cab/car drop-off
Lastly, Lind wants to create a dedicated bus lane along Broadway that would move quickly and efficiently and implement commercial loading zones at specific locations/times, permitting local deliveries as necessary to support retail along the corridor.
Lind noted that during the summer the city launched an Open Streets program, but the administration didn’t put one on Broadway because of the bus lanes.
She said most people she has spoken to have provided positive feedback. The only naysayers are those who are worried about losing parking spots or that it could hurt their business. However, she pointed out that most people who shop or do business along that corridor are walking or taking mass transit.
“I think every single New Yorker is a pedestrian,” Lind said. “I think a lot of people are excited about it [this plan].”