Another long wait on Worth Street: 26 Federal Plaza

Many folks have asked me over the past couple years about 26 Federal Plaza, the acre (that’s my guess) of hardscape on the east side of Broadway from Worth to Duane. It took me a while — multiple emails to several wrong agencies, as it turns out — to figure out that it was the US General Services Administration responsible for the work. After spotting an old parking sign on the fence, I got in touch. The news is not good.

The GSA is renovating the below-ground garage at the Javits Federal Building, and work is scheduled to be completed by fall 2023. Oy. Only then will the plaza and sidewalk once more be accessible to the public. (The GSA sent this photo of the sign — I have walked around the site at least three times looking for such a thing and somehow never spotted it!) The work began in fall 2019, so that’s a four-year project to repair a garage, if it stays on track. I’m awaiting more details and renderings for the site.

Four years without a sidewalk is excessive IMO so one would think they could accelerate at least that part of the project.

There’s also the sculptures that were once on the plaza — “Manhattan Sentinels” installed in 1996 by Beverly Pepper, who died in February 2020 at 97. One of my journalism idols, the obit writer Margalit Fox, described Pepper as “an acclaimed American sculptor whose work was suffused with a quicksilver lightness that belied its gargantuan scale.”

The GSA said the sculptures will be returned when the plaza is finished. In the meantime, the Beverly Pepper Foundation told me that the three monoliths are now in storage in New Jersey. Sonia Stock caught their dismantling in these photos nearly two years ago.

 

5 Comments

  1. Oy. Federal wasteful spending at it’s finest.

  2. It reminds me of the work that was done on Chambers Street (between Church and West Broadway) a few years ago. It took about 1-1/2 years to finish, the streets were paved and safe again to travel (by foot or vehicles) and then the streets were broken up again! I don’t think the city took this long to build initially and the workers were better and more skilled.

  3. Poor 26 Federal Plaza. A disaster since it opened. The garage has leaked since the day the original contractor packed his bags and signed off. It was loaded with asbestos. Rumor has it that one part of the building was hurriedly built to keep the other part from falling onto Broadway. (You can see the seam between the buildings in every elevator bay.) They can’t regulate the heat or hot water properly. Who knows what structural problem they created when that security entrance was constructed years ago, and it took many years to get monies approved to do the current construction. It’s just a mess.

    • The intersection at Worth & Broadway is wildly dangerous due to the construction at Federal Plaza taking out the crosswalk and sidewalk. Pedestrians have no clue where to cross the street or which way the traffic runs. There are no signs providing information. I’m surprised no one has been injured. Not to mention the garbage piling up and rats running about make it more of a war zone then a major thruway downtown.

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