The New York City Plaza Program is open to all organizations within the city and is run by DOT (the Department of Transportation). Through this program, DOT works with organizations to redesign neighborhood plazas, turning unused spaces into quality spaces that people can enjoy. The goal of the program is to make it so that anyone living in New York can walk to a quality open space within 10 minutes of their home.
New York is a concrete jungle, although too much concrete isn’t good for anyone. In fact, access to greenery and open space is key to human health and wellbeing. That’s why this program is so important to NYC. Adding an open space with greenery and seating can greatly benefit a neighborhood and the people who live there.
DOT will fund both the design and construction, they also help facilitate public workshops in order to create a space that truly speaks to a community and the things they want. Once the design is in place, DOT enlists professional designers who can take concept ideas and turn them into reality. Common elements included in plazas are benches, seating, tables, trees, plants, lighting elements, bike racks, and art installations.
Is Your Organization Eligible for the NYC Plaza Program?
If there is a space in your neighborhood that could use a facelift, you can join the competitive process of submitting a proposal for a new plaza site funded through the NYC Plaza Program. Sites are more likely to be selected if they are located in neighborhoods with no access to quality open space. In addition, DOT seeks out community groups that can show a plan for maintaining, operating, and managing the space into the future.
To be eligible to apply for the NYC Plaza Program your organization must:
- Operate within the city lines of New York
- Be incorporated in New York State, as well as up to date on all annual State and Federal filing requirements
- The targeted area for the plaza must be in proximity to your organization or serve the same community as your organization.
Other requirements include:
- The plaza must be at least 2,000 square feet
- Advertisements are not allowed as part of the future plan for the plaza. There are some exceptions for banners, but these banners must advertise upcoming events that improve the city’s image and/or appeal to tourists.
- If the plaza will generate income through agreements with vendors, sponsorships or commercial events, these funds must be reinvested in the maintenance and upkeep of the plaza.
While the project is funded by DOT, there are a lot of things you are still responsible for as a partner organization. These responsibilities include:
- Meeting with the design team on a regular basis to go over ideas and ensure that the plan fits your community and their specific needs.
- Your organization is in charge of public outreach, which may include hosting workshops, sending out surveys, as well as any other necessary avenues.
- The organization is in charge of securing insurance on the plaza, as well as showing a future maintenance plan. DOT wants to make sure the plaza will remain in good condition and is kept clean to get the most use. Typical maintenance plans include: sweeping, graffiti removal, snow removal, and watering plants. Organizations must create a detailed plan that includes how they will fund maintenance over the long haul. In addition, you’ll be required to provide regular progress reports to DOT.
- Provide a program of events that will be hosted at the plaza, such as art installations, community holiday parties, farmers markets, and so forth.
What About Traffic?
New York City is without doubt one of the most crowded places on the planet. Hence, why many people question the effectiveness of adding more plazas in fear it will only lead to more traffic and less parking. To prevent this, DOT evaluates each area to ensure the space can be reclaimed for pedestrians without causing traffic issues. No space is approved without first undergoing a traffic analysis. If use of the space will have negative impacts on traffic and parking, it will not be approved. In some instances, a detailed traffic study is conducted to better understand how transforming the space will impact traffic.
Low Maintenance Plazas with TerraCast
The best way to ensure an affordable maintenance plan for a plaza is to use the appropriate materials. For instance, we have partnered with DOT to provide our heavy-duty planters at many pedestrian plazas in NYC, including Times Square. Our planters do not absorb stains like other planter materials, in fact they are even resistant to graffiti.
TerraCast Planters are virtually maintenance free thanks to unique materials and sustainable manufacturing processes conducted right here in the USA. Learn more about our resin-based planters
We also offer lighting fixtures, bollards, picnic tables, receptacles and many other features necessary to create a vibrant public space. Plus, many of our products qualify for LEED credits.