With Google Moving In, Hudson Square gets a makeover
Art: courtesy of WXY Architects on behalf of Hudson Square BID
Last week, when Google announced the purchase of the massive St. John’s terminal for $ 2.1 billion – the more money spent in an office during the pandemic all over the United States – many media reported in error the company was heading towards Hudson Yards. This was an understandable mistake given that Facebook and Amazon are already leasing space in the billionaire’s playground. But no: Google is expanding its presence to Hudson Square, in the western fringe of Soho, where it already has two offices on Hudson Street. And as the search giant takes hold, the local Business Improvement District is putting together a plan to turn this area into something akin to a real neighborhood. But due to the inherent nature of Hudson Square, it’s going to be a tough climb.
The neighborhood, which has many old factory buildings with very large floor plates that once clattered with printing presses, is a relatively recent creation. It was just an unnamed slab on the west side, sometimes known as the Printing District, until one of its major real estate owners, Trinity Real Estate, began a rebranding in the early years. 2000. His conversions gradually turned the neighborhood into a publishing hub, attracting media companies that were looking for lower rents than they would pay in the downtown or financial district: Viking Penguin, ABC Radio, WNYC, Comedy Central – not to mention new York Magazine – all moved to the Trinity buildings on Hudson or Varick streets. These tenants have more recently been joined (and in some cases replaced) by tech equipment like Warby Parker, Squarespace, Oscar Health, and Harry’s Razors. Before Google’s big desktop game, Disney made headlines in 2018 for the 1.2 million square foot campus he is developing on the former City Winery site. And this growing tech workforce highlights Hudson Square’s shortcomings as a neighborhood.
That’s because, for all its charms, Hudson Square is largely cut off from its surroundings by the Holland Tunnel ramps and a four-block UPS building on Greenwich Street. It barely operates at street level, mainly because it is hardly accessible on foot. There are a few bars and restaurants, like the Ear Inn landmark and a Westville, but that’s a pretty slim selection until you pick your way east through the tunnel traffic to Soho. well said. (In One Hudson Square, Trinity half-solved this problem by installing a restaurant inside the building on the third floor, accessible only to tenants and their visitors.)
In an attempt to resolve all of these issues before it is inundated with yet more technicians, the Hudson Square BID has issued a $ 22 million plan this week which aims to make the region better for walking and cycling. The BID proposal, made in partnership with architectural firm WXY, calls for a new sidewalk-level bike path along Houston Street and a sparkling S-curve of a pedestrian bridge which goes from Spring Street on the West Side Highway. Both aim to provide better access to Hudson River Park, which, although technically located in Hudson Square, is rather difficult to access: there are fewer connections to cross to get to the park than in some of its neighbors, like Chelsea. The BID is also proposing to link Hudson Square to Tribeca with a platform that would widen the sidewalk on Greenwich between Canal and Spring, taking back some street space from cars. And in the long run, this block would be transformed into a street with no sidewalks.
In 2013, as part of the first phase of its plan to make the area more pedestrian and bicycle friendly, the IDB built a strange little quasi-park called Freeman Plaza West with a painted concrete sculpture of Noguchi. red right next to the entrance to the Holland Tunnel. . At the time this was proposed, people were skeptical: “I’m not sitting there, it’s crazy”, Natasha Edwards, a neighborhood worker, said to New York Times in 2012. “This is the mouth of the tunnel. Everyone turns on the light trying to get in there. But it has proven to be quite popular among office workers during lunch hours in hot weather, especially since the start of the pandemic. It remains to be seen whether their future Googleplex neighbors – perhaps one day joined by their Facebook or Twitter counterparts, if this truly becomes East Coast Tech Central, as Trinity clearly hopes – will bear the brunt of the expense to import a genuine neighborhood charm.