East Side residents could soon enjoy close to 30 blocks of new park space along the East River, under a new plan unveiled yesterday by the Municipal Art Society.
While the United Nations seeks to expand its campus into what is now a local park and the state rebuilds the Midtown segment of the FDR Drive next door, community members and their elected officials are using the opportunity to lobby for park space in their dense neighborhood.
The park would stretch between 34th and 63rd streets, on the site of the abandoned Consolidated Edison waterside plant. The plan unveiled yesterday includes an elevated urban terrace over the FDR Drive, a wooded hill that would offer a new vista of the river, a ferry terminal, modern commercial development space, and waterfront access.
The blueprint provides the first unified vision for development of the area and was created by six architects in a 12-hour closed-door brainstorming session organized by the Municipal Art Society and Council Member Daniel Garodnick, who represents the district where the park would lie.
"It's not a substitute for a planning process, but it's a way to show people some really exciting ideas," a staff member of the Municipal Art Society, Jasper Goldman, said of the speedy design session. The plan would need approval from the developer and owner of the Con Edison site, Sheldon Solow, to move forward.
The landscape architects — including a designer of the High Line, Ricardo Scofidio, the designer of the Museum of Modern Art roof garden, Ken Smith, and an architect of the planned Brooklyn Bridge Park, Matthew Urbanski — worked together to create the first coordinated vision for a park that could make up for the loss of Robert Moses Playground, a 1.3-acre space on which the United Nations is seeking to erect a new office tower, with the city's support.
While strong opposition in the Legislature is likely to hold up the expansion of the U.N. campus, officials said the new esplanade project could move forward independently. Construction on the former Con Edison site could begin within months, according to officials from the Municipal Art Society.