Feb. 10, 2019 By Nathaly Pesantez
A public meeting will be held later this month on a developer’s joint plan with the city to install a small, seasonal seating area along a Jackson Avenue curb—a project that has received some pushback from Community Board 2.
The meeting, scheduled for Feb. 26 at PS 1 MoMA, will go over Rockrose’s proposal to install a “street seat” in front of 26-01 Jackson Ave., right off the intersection of 44th Drive and Jackson Avenue.
The street seat is part of a Department of Transportation initiative that replaces some curbside parking space at a given location with a box-like structure that provides seating for the public.
Street seats are typically installed in the spring for a 10-month period, and are outfitted with plantings and other accessories.
The street seat is also installed after an applying partner puts the request for the unit through. In this case, Rockrose, which has developed several luxury buildings in the Court Square area, is proposing to install the street seat in the parking lane adjacent to the Hayden, one of its developments.
Rockrose and DOT first presented on the street seat proposal during a Community Board 2 transportation meeting in November. Some board members, however, immediately rejected the structure’s proposed location, believing that Jackson Avenue is unsafe for such a project, and would impact pedestrian and vehicular traffic.
“Why would we seat people in the middle of the street on a truck route?” asked Denise Keehan-Smith, then chair of the transportation committee, at the meeting.
The DOT repeated in response that the street seat would be installed in a parking lane, not the middle of the roadway, and that street seats citywide have not seen any issues relating to safety and vehicular traffic.
Traffic flow along Jackson Avenue, the agency added, would not be impacted at all precisely because of the street seat’s siting in a parking lane. About two parking spaces, however, will be taken up by the street seat, which is approximately 30 feet long and 6 feet wide.
Sheila Lewandowski, who became head of the same committee in January, said at the November meeting that the DOT did not provide enough information on pedestrian volumes and other metrics for her to support the project.
“You don’t want to talk about traffic, but we do,” Lewandowski said, suggesting that the agency consider other locations in the Court Square area for the street seat.
Rockrose and DOT said the street seat would liven up the Jackson Avenue block, home to several popular businesses like Book Culture and Toby’s Estate, and soon set to welcome Xi’an Famous Foods.
“The idea is to have some more activity here,” said Patricia Dunphy, senior vice president of Rockrose, at the November meeting. “We think it’s going to be just great…it’s just another space to be outdoors.”
Every street seat comes with standard operating hours, and prohibit alcohol, smoking and commercial activity inside. Rockrose would also be responsible for the maintenance and safety of the street seat.
The street seat, if approved, would likely be installed some time in March, and would be the first for Queens.
The public meeting will take place on Feb. 26 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at PS 1 MoMA’s cinema space. The entrance is on 46-01 21st St.