The East Midtown Waterfront Project will fill a major gap in the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway between East 38th and East 60th Streets along the East River while providing much-desired waterfront access and public open space resources for the communities of East Midtown and the public at large.
NYCEDC, working in partnership with the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation, the NYC Department of Transportation, elected officials, and local communities, is engaged in planning for the East Midtown Waterfront Project to improve access to the East River, enhance bicycle and pedestrian connectivity, and create waterfront amenities for public use and enjoyment in accordance with Vision 2020: New York City Comprehensive Waterfront Plan and OneNYC. The new waterfront esplanade would stretch for 22 blocks and fill a major gap in the 32-mile Manhattan Waterfront Greenway. Following State enabling legislation signed by Governor Cuomo in July 2011, the City, and State executed a Memorandum of Understanding in October 2011 creating the framework for the United Nations to expand its New York City campus while creating funding sources for the East Midtown Waterfront Project.The Memorandum of Understanding was amended in 2015 to extend the completion date and to include other minor changes.
As the UN consolidation is not moving forward, the mayor announced in April 2017 a commitment of capital funding for design and construction for the ODR Esplanade portion now referred to as the E. Midtown Greenway – 53rd to 61st Streets and an upland ‘flyover’ connection at 54th Street. In summer 2017, NYCEDC released a publicly advertised RFP for a designer. The selected design team is led by Stantec and design commenced in October 2017. It is anticipated that the construction of the Greenway will be complete in 2022.
Key Esplanade Features
The East Midtown Waterfront Project will consist of three sections served by a number of potential upland connections:
- East 38th- 41st Streets/Waterside Pier: An existing City-owned structure formerly used by Con Edison for fuel deliveries to the adjacent Waterside steam plant (since demolished) and later for parking. Construction began in 2014 and the pier is expected to be open to the public by the end of 2015.
- East 41st- 53rd Streets/the UN Esplanade: This middle section of the Esplanade would pass by the UN campus.
- East 53rd- 60th Streets/the ODR Esplanade: This northern section of the Esplanade may make use of existing in-water caisson structures that supported the Outboard Detour Roadway (ODR) during the recent reconstruction of the FDR Drive.
- Upland connections: To be explored, including improvements at the current East 37th Street entrance to Glick Park East 48th Street, East 54th Street, and at East 60th Street, where the Esplanade would connect to Andrew Haswell Green Park.
When developing the conceptual plan, there were 19 meetings and presentations to local stakeholders between 2009 and 2015.
NYCEDC and the design team look forward to continue working with the local community and we continue to welcome their important feedback as the project moves forward. NYCEDC will attend CB6 and CB8 meetings to gather their input and provide updates.
NYCEDC, working in partnership with NYC Parks and NYCDOT, has selected an artist to serve on the design team for the East Midtown Greenway. Brian Tolle was selected through a selection process designed by Via Partnership working with Stantec. The design team assembled an artist selection committee with representatives from City agencies and the community, with members possessing visual art expertise, knowledge of living artists and artistic production, and support for project vision. An advisory panel comprised of representatives from the design team and an appointed representative from Community Boards 6 and 8 was also integral to the selection process.
Forty-seven local, national, and international artists recommended by the public art consultant, the design team, and the community, were invited to participate in the invitational competition. Tolle was selected based upon his qualifications and interviews with the design team, artist selection committee, advisory panel and the community. Selection criteria included:
- Artistic excellence as demonstrated by past work and submitted materials
- Experience working on projects requiring collaborative skills
- Demonstrated understanding of the requirements for creating work for public space
- Demonstrated appreciation of architecture and public space use and engagement
- Demonstrated ability to work within budgets and meet project deadlines
- Ability to engage a wide audience
The selection process included a qualifications review meeting on January 30. This meeting was open to the public. The three finalists selected at this meeting attended a project orientation and design workshop. The final selection was made at a public meeting on February 28. Each of the finalists gave a presentation and answered questions from community members.
Community meeting presentations for East Midtown Greenway - E. 53rd - E. 61st Street:
In order to gather public input that informed the first stage of design for the esplanade, the City team and the EGAP Board invited a range of neighborhood groups and citywide stakeholders to join a community working group.
The first meeting of the community working group was held in May 2012 and focused on articulating specific goals and priorities for the esplanade design.
The second community working group meeting was held in June 2013 and focused on getting feedback on pre-concept designs and potential programming.
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), the lead agency for environmental review of the UN and ODR Esplanade, issued a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) for the project on February 2, 2016.