Volume 16 • Issue 29 | December 16 - 22, 2003


Downtown Local


Canal Park work begins
Construction of the Canal Street Park at West St., a new version of the triangular park that disappeared in 1920 to make way for the Holland Tunnel, began last week.

Covering two thirds of an acre, the new park will be twice as large as the first one built in 1870 and is expected to open at the beginning of the summer. The work began last week with the erection of a construction fence, installation of a trailer and excavation work.

A serpentine path will run through the center of the new park from east to west and a replica of the wrought iron fence that surrounded City Hall Park in the 19th century will surround the triangle.

On either side of the path there will be lawns with planting beds on the north and south sides adjacent to the fence. There will be about 25 trees planted including crab apples, silver lindens and American elm.

First created in 1870, the park was redesigned by Samuel Parsons and Calvert Vaux in 1888 with a remnant of the City Hall Park fence and a curving path and plantings. The projected $2.5 million construction cost of the new Canal Park is funded entirely by the New York State Department of Transportation as part of the Rte. 9A project.

The Canal West Coalition, a neighborhood group advocating for the park for three years, discovered that the park had been illegally closed 80 years ago and was instrumental in getting it declared a park again. Last year, Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe paid tribute to the Coalition leaders for their research into the history of the park.


Hospital development
Developer Bruce Ratner has beat out a bunch of other contenders for the N.Y.U. Downtown Hospital parking lot site, according to the New York Post.

The Post reported on Dec. 2 that Ratner’s Forest City Ratner has not yet bought the property bordered by Spruce, Beekman, Nassau and Gold Sts., but that it would begin an exclusive negotiating session with the hospital. A high-rise tower can be built on the site “as-of-right,” or without any special permission from the city.

A spokesperson for N.Y.U. Downtown Hospital did not return calls for comment. A spokesperson for Ratner declined to comment.

Community Board 1 has passed a resolution calling for a new public elementary and middle school to be created on the parking lot site. Both the developer and the city Department of Education would have to agree to such a plan. It is widely believed that Lower Manhattan will get a new public school as part of the Education Department’s five-year capital plan released last month, but school officials have not said what part of District 2 will get new schools.

In an interview last month, Dr. Bruce Logan, the new president and C.E.O. of N.Y.U. Downtown Hospital, said the hospital plans to retain 40,000 square feet on the parking lot site for its own outpatient use.



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