The Meatpacking District Management Association (Meatpacking BID) debuted the Western Gateway Area Needs Report and Public Realm Vision, a comprehensive presentation detailing recommendations to improve the far west area of the Meatpacking District.
The report is the result of eight months of work in partnership with WXY architecture + urban design and Sam Schwartz Engineering. It expands upon the recent vehicular and public space improvements along Ninth Avenue and Gansevoort Street to improve mobility across the neighborhood and bring a more balanced public realm to the far west side.
“We’re proud of the Meatpacking District’s continued evolution and we are committed to a future where visitors can safely navigate all corners of the neighborhood with ease,” said Jeffrey LeFrancois, Executive Director of the District Management Association. “Improvements to the Western Gateway area will create consistency, improve mobility, and provide more enjoyable public spaces while prioritizing commerce.”
“Building on MDMA’s groundbreaking pedestrian-oriented district plan and the BID’s leadership in open streets and open restaurants, the Western Gateway plan re-envisions the district’s western streets as an oasis for pedestrians and a front porch looking onto the Hudson River,” said Claire Weisz FAIA, founding Principal of WXY architecture + urban design. “With new or enhanced pedestrian connections to the river and a rationalized traffic network that prioritizes people over vehicles, the plan lays the groundwork for New York City’s first true Pedestrian-Priority District and its preeminent place to see and be seen.”
“Planned in a time when the area was largely industrial and truck dependent, many of the Meatpacking District’s streets and traffic patterns no longer meet the needs of 2022,” said Mike Flynn, Senior Principal and National Director of Transportation Planning at Sam Schwartz Engineering. “Working with MDMA, WXY, and local stakeholders, we looked beyond the typical street design toolbox – to shared streets, time-of-day access management, and new approaches to back-of-house operations,” explaining the process. “The new vision meets the logistical demands of the remaining meatpacking and industrial businesses while creating safer, more walkable streets for the pedestrian-oriented businesses and destinations that have transformed the neighborhood over the past decade.”
“The district has long defined trends in New York City,” LeFrancois added. “While this may not be a fashion trend, it’s an overdue upgrade to the streetscape which will remain at once distinct and immediately recognizable given the district’s striking historic architecture.”
Waterfront Attractions Are Driving Record Visitation to the Neighborhood
The Whitney Museum has now called Gansevoort Street and Tenth Avenue home for seven years, and since then new businesses are continuing to lease in the area. According to the Meatpacking BID’s pedestrian counting program, a record number of visitors are traveling further west each day, attributable to new waterfront attractions within Hudson River Park: Little Island, Pier 57’s rooftop park and offices for 500 Googlers opened in 2022. With the Pier 57’s food hall and Gansevoort Peninsula set to open next year, visitation is only expected to grow.
To reach the piers and other destinations on the far west side, visitors must traverse the Western Gateway, which today is a confusing, uninviting corridor of wide streets, conflicting vehicle movements, and poor urban design. It is an area that has been left untouched even as new attractions such as the Whitney Museum, Genesis House, and other shops and restaurants have arrived in the area.
A Roadmap for a 21st Century Neighborhood
The new vision for the area serves as a roadmap to bring the Western Gateway’s design and function into the 21st century, matching the high-quality public amenities and spaces offered throughout the rest of the district. The plan responds to the challenges and opportunities presented by increased pedestrian visitation in a busy logistics corridor.
Building from significant stakeholder conversations and a detailed analysis of the existing conditions, the Western Gateway report and Public Realm Vision are connected through six principles:
- Safe and Inviting: Create streets that are safe for all users and public spaces that foster fathering
- People-centered and Balanced: Create parity between commerce, neighborhood logistics needs, and public realm activity
- Connected and Seamless: Enhance mobility through improved pedestrian, bicycle, and transit access to and from the district
- Rational and Organized: Reduce conflicts for all users while bringing order to the curb
- Chic and Timeless: Build on the district's high quality design legacy through enhanced public space
- Coordinate and Innovate: Manage resource flows into and out of the district using modern best practices for freight and commerce
Discovery, Analysis + Piloting Redevelopment
The comprehensive Western Gateway presentation is separated into two parts:
- The Area Needs Report examines the Western Gateway to determine its strengths, weaknesses, challenges, as well as opportunities for improvements. The report calls out a range of locations with high pedestrian/vehicular conflict, confusing intersections, corridors with poor urban design, and underutilized areas. The report looks at traffic circulation throughout the area, bike and truck access, and crash locations in order to identify six distinct areas of focus.
- The Public Realm Vision analyzes the areas of focus and projects a future vision for the Western Gateway. The vision outlines specific changes which can improve conditions in the area. These solutions are presented both as interim projects that can be implemented by the BID and neighborhood partners in coordination with the city; and as longer-term capital construction projects, which would require significant support from the State and City to achieve.
Based on a business and stakeholder survey, an overwhelming majority of respondents believe the curbs should be repurposed to support more greening of the district, better trash management, and outdoor dining.
In an effort to meet demands of today’s business, hospitality, and retail needs, short-term solutions are offered, referred to as “interum designs” and “pilots” within the Public Realm Vision. Pilots allow for needed changes to be put into place swiftly, without the years-long wait while capital funding is secured. This approach also accommodates learnings and adjustments based on experienced conditions, and can inform capital design to support long term solutions. Some of the pilots outlined in this report are already being put into motion by private property owners, the city, the state, and the BID, and the public should expect to see the area transform in the next few years.
See a link to the presentation here which was presented to the neighborhood’s directors, tenants and community members at the Meatpacking BID’s Annual Meeting on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022. High- resolution images and renderings are available upon request and a detailed report will be forthcoming outlining specifics of each aspect of the proposal.