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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Press Release #08-016

DOT Launches NYC Plaza Program, Bringing Community-Based Planning to Create Public Spaces Throughout the City

Innovative program to design and build public plazas partners the City with local nonprofit partners

NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan today announced the launch of the City’s community-based NYC Plaza Program to transform underused street space into destination-making public plazas across all five boroughs. Through this initiative, DOT will work with local communities to determine sites for new plazas and target those neighborhoods that lack open space. The NYC Plaza Program is part of Mayor Bloomberg’s PlaNYC and the department’s strategic plan to improve the quality of life for all New Yorkers by ensuring that everyone lives within a 10-minute walk of quality open space.

"The streets of New York City make up a quarter of the City's area and 80% of its public space, so we need to treat our streets as the vital places they are," said Commissioner Sadik-Khan. "Our plaza program is transforming lifeless pavement into new community space around the city. We anticipate that in some neighborhoods, the program will provide an organizing focus for merchants seeking to form new business improvements districts, so it will improve both a neighborhood's physical environment and the business climate."

The program seeks to make vibrant, social places that attract pedestrians, temporary art installations and special events, to support local groups with maintenance and programming at the plaza. These new plazas will create local destinations, make walking more enjoyable and enhance neighborhood, all while building community partnerships and supporting local development.

Eligible non-profit groups can apply to DOT to request a new public plaza under a special application program using proposal guidelines. DOT will choose up to eight of the best proposals to begin planning and design in the fall of 2008. Additional opportunities to apply for a plaza will be offered next year.

DOT will work with community partners to identify new sites by prioritizing communities that lack existing parks or plazas. Partnering with local stakeholders helps as they are best situated to manage, maintain and program these spaces so that they will be authentic expressions of the communities where they are located.

The NYC Plaza Program will be officially launched tonight at Pratt Institute, one of the first universities in the City to sign on as a "PlaNYC Challenge Partner" and commit to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30% within the next 10 years. "The Pratt Center is thrilled to be a partner in the NYC Plaza Program," said Brad Lander, director of the Pratt Center. "By supporting nonprofit groups throughout the City in the creation of new public spaces, the NYC Plaza Program is a natural fit with Pratt's history of community-based planning."

Plazas are intended to be social, active gathering places for communities. Seating, food, trees, public markets, lighting and other elements are all possible amenities to enliven and enrich these spaces. The plazas might be similar in form to temporary plazas that DOT has built at 14th Street and 9th Avenue in Manhattan, in Brooklyn's DUMBO neighborhood, and near Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking District, except that these plazas will be fully constructed, permanent plazas.

After the plazas are designed and built, the partnering organizations will be responsible for regular maintenance, management and programming of the plazas so that that are maintained as well-used public spaces.

Guidelines and the application form will be available at www.nyc.gov/plazas. Applications must be submitted by 6 p.m. on Tuesday, August 19, and notices of award will be sent out in the fall. The DOT will team with the Department of Small Business Services to establish long-term partnerships with the communities near each plaza that is selected. Non-profit organizations across the five boroughs with tax-exempt status and the proper non-profit registration are encouraged to apply. Organizations representing areas lacking public plazas and/or in low/middle income neighborhoods are especially encouraged to apply.

Commissioner Sadik-Khan will launch the announcement tonight at 6 p.m. at Pratt Institute, Manhattan, 144 W. 14th St. (between 6th and 7th Avenue), Room 213.

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