The Alliance for Downtown New York has proposed a plan to the city that will rescale Water Street and turn it into a more pedestrian friendly, commercial boulevard with a large retail component to meet the neighborhood’s rapidly growing residential population.

The plan which is being called, “Water Street: A New Approach-Transforming Lower Manhattan’s Modern Commercial Boulevard” is currently undergoing meetings with the city and private property owners in hopes that the city can collaborate private and public partnerships.

“ The public sector needs to engage the private sector,” said James Yolles, Director of Public Affairs for the Alliance for Downtown New York. “They need to get involved and some are already very interested.”

The proposed plan calls for the rescaling and rezoning of Water Street, planting trees and extending curbs in order to make the area more pedestrian friendly as well as possibly extending Mannahatta Park/Wall Street Park to strengthen connections to the waterfront, closing Front Street during lunch hours and increasing interest to the Elevated Acre, a popular location for festivals and other outdoor events that sits behind Water Street .

The Water Street plan also has residents in mind and based on a survey that was released by Downtown New York in May, Lower Manhattan’s residential population has increased from approximately 25,000 in 2001 to 55,000 and is in need for retail.

“This is not a far-fetched idea,” said Yolles. “It is a pragmatic solution; there is a demand for this.”

The plan will add restaurants with outdoor seating and bars with night entertainment, supermarkets, museums and art galleries in order to attract and retain both residential and professional tenants.

New York-based Starr Whitehouse Landscape Architects and Planners put together the renderings for the proposed plan and worked closely with key players on the consultant team including FXFowle Architects and Sam Schwartz Engineering of New York among others. The consultant team provided art analysis, branding and image, lighting concepts and discussions about retail options.

According to Yolles, there are currently too many variables to give an estimated cost of the project right now because once the city approves the plan, the final design may change. However, Yolles estimates that the project will be completed by 2020 but Stephen Whitehouse, partner of Starr Whitehouse, predicts that some aspects could be completed as soon as within the next year.

- Carolina Worrell