Reimagining Fifth Avenue from Bryant Park to Central Park

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New York Construction Report staff writer

A plan to reimagine Fifth Avenue — from Bryant Park at 42nd Street to Central Park at 59th Street was released this week — focused on creating a safer, less congested, pedestrian-centered boulevard.

The process will build on theNew New York: Making New York Work for Everyone” action plan.

“Fifth Avenue is an iconic corridor and an engine of our Midtown economy. But it is also an unmissable opportunity to show the city and the country how world-class public space can help create vibrant central business districts,” Mayor Eric Adams said in a statement. “New York isn’t coming back, New York is back. But New Yorkers don’t sit on our hands — we will continue to bring everyone to the table, come up with innovative ideas together, and make our city safer, fairer, and more prosperous.”

The “New New York” action plan reimagines New York’s business districts as vibrant 24/7 destinations as a critical goal for the city’s economic recovery, with public realm improvements being one key initiative.

The city will identify and implement early action improvements in 2023 and construction is expected to be completed in two years. Goals for Fifth Avenue include:

  • Transformation between Bryant Park and Central Park into an innovative pedestrian-focused space for the public to enjoy, with public realm improvements like expanded green space, new tree plantings, and enhanced lighting;
  • Prioritizing sustainable modes of transportation and mass transit, including speeding up bus travel;
  • Increasing pedestrian space across the avenue — expanding sidewalks and prioritizing accessibility and pedestrian mobility; and
  • Improving street safety, including for cycling.

The planning process will use a range of data and other factors, including pedestrian traffic patterns, commuting trends based on changing work patterns, and the implementation of congestion pricing.

Early in 2023, New York City’s lead agencies — the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and DOT — will contract with a design firm to begin the process. Local stakeholders will convene as part of a vision plan steering group.

Funding will come in part from a public-private partnership, led by several Midtown stakeholders, including the Fifth Avenue Association, the Grand Central Partnership, the Bryant Park Association, and the Central Park Conservancy.

“Reimagining and rebuilding our streets and public spaces is the most effective path toward neighborhood recovery, economic recovery, and long-term sustainability,” said Deputy Mayor for Economic and Workforce Development Maria Torres-Springer. “Building on the success of our Fifth Avenue Open Street, we will deliver a world-class boulevard connecting Central Park to Bryant Park and take a critical step towards a ‘New New York’ and a better, bolder city.”

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